“Paid – No Charge”

Yesterday was a bad day. I suppose in the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t horrible but it started out badly… At least, not in the way I would have liked it to (it’s a long story that I honestly do not want to share the details publicly). I found myself very frustrated and overall very down.

Even pastors have bad days and question the good of humanity sometimes.

Today, however, was a much different story. I was humbled, blessed and reminded of how generous people have been and continue to be, especially in the wake of Hannah’s death. Allow me to recount some of the events.

Today started with the best part of any of my EMS shifts: Coming home. I relaxed this morning while Jessica spent part of the day at the school where she teaches (she is transitioning back to work slowly, with plans to fully return to work in a couple of weeks). I had lunch with my new ministry mentor, Wesley, and our conversation was great. Truthfully, I was looking forward to this event because Wesley and I have been friends for a few years and he was recently named as my mentor as I navigate through the ordination process in the UMC. So I thought, this was going to be the bright spot of my day. The rest of the day wasn’t looking so hot.

The reason for that is because this was the day that Jessica and I decided to go look for a headstone for Hannah’s grave. It was something that we were not looking forward to because we would have to think of her death in a very outward way with someone we had never met. Not to mention that no parent should ever have to choose such an adornment for their child… I digress… We had considered what company to use and I remembered J.H. O’Neal Marble Works in Meridian and decided that we should go and talk to them. When I was a radio personality I used to voice their commercials so I was at least somewhat familiar with them. I had also heard that they were nice people and did good work so we found ourselves headed in their direction.

As it turns out, this was a good thing.

We were greeted by a very nice older gentleman. I hate that I cannot remember his name but it does escape me at the moment. As we were discussing the different options for a headstone, the wording, design and such, he was very patient and put us at ease. When we had decided on a design and what all should go on it, we brought up the topic of payment and how much we should pay today. Let me just say that the price we were initially quoted was very reasonable so we were not worried about it. He wrote something on the invoice and handed it to us. I read it. And then I looked at Jessica and looked at the invoice again. On it, the man had written, “Paid – No Charge.”

I was floored. I was in disbelief. I felt such joy at this generous action that I just didn’t know what to say or do. Needless to say, he got several thank yous and hugs from Jessica and I. By the way, assuming all goes as it should, the stone should be in place in less than a month.

Jessica and I have been humbled and astonished at the amount of generosity that we have been shown since Hannah died. From the care we received at the hospital, the food that was provided, the funeral not costing us anything, the monetary gifts given to both us and Camp Wesley Pines in Hannah’s memory and prayers and visits from so many, the love we have been shown has been overwhelming and such a blessing. I feel that those words are not adequate but I just don’t know how to say it any other way. Simply, we have been blown away.

The generosity has reminded us that God has blessed us with many great people, even some people that we don’t even know directly (several donations to Wesley Pines were made by people we have not met).

In Scripture we are taught in numerous places to be generous with what we have been given. Jesus taught that when we serve others, we serve Him (I actually preached on that last Sunday). The generous acts that have been bestowed upon us have inspired Jessica and I to be more generous. If we can repay even 1/10 of the kindness that has been shown to us, we will have done something truly amazing.

Today has been one of those bittersweet days but with a much sweeter ending than we ever could have dreamt of. We simply continue to be awe struck at the generous acts that have been shown to us. If you have participated in any of these, know that are grateful. And if you need to know some good people to do business with should the need for a funeral or a grave marker arise, please feel free to contact us. We will be glad to send you their way.


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