"That Suit Looks Terrible On You!"
If I remember correctly, those were the very words spoken to me by a faithful Christian widow and a dear friend, sister Ida Davis. We had moved to Ozark to work with the church where she was a member. I had bought a beautiful brown wool/silk suit while living in Savannah, Georgia but I had lost about 25 pounds and it no longer fit me. Sister Davis was a professional seamstress and she volunteered to alter the suit for me.
After I had carried the suit to her, at which time she measured me so she could alter the suit accurately, sister Davis became sick and had to be in bed for several days. I went to see her and while standing by her bed I glanced over to another bed in the room and there was my beautiful suit - one arm in one place, a leg in another place, etc. She had taken the suit completely apart. I remember what she said to me when she saw my concern,"Brother Elliott, I know you hope I don't die before I put your suit together again." She did get well and when I tried on the suit, it was tailored to fit me perfectly.
Sister Davis Was a Modern Dorcus
Sister Davis was a seamstress and a faithful Christian, loved and respected by all who knew her. I was in need of borrowing some money to help pay some bills that we had accumulated but did not know anyone personally in the banking business since we were new in town. Sister Davis did. I mentioned my need to her on one occasion and she called the manager of the bank where she did her business and related my needs to him. The gentleman informed her to send me to the bank and ask for him. I was able to see him that very day and, upon the reputation of this good woman, was able to borrow the needed money. I shall never forget her kindness and her trust in me, believing that I would repay my debt and this I did.
Postscript ~ Sister Davis attended the school in Highland Home, Alabama that was begun by J. M. Barnes, who had been a student of Alexander Campbell at the Bethany College. She was also a 'true southerner'. She named one of her sons, Thomas Jefferson Davis.
"And the Walls Came Tumbling Down" - NOT!
It was Sunday morning and I was teaching the adult Bible class, which met in the auditorium in the church building on Martin Street. We did not have air conditioning and so all the windows were raised in order to get a fresh breeze flowing through the auditorium. All of a sudden we heard the voices of small children marching around the building, being led by their teacher, Virginia Bradley. You see, Virginia had been reading to them about the walls of Jericho and she wanted them to act out the biblical story of Joshua and the children of Israel marching around that city. I think they marched around our building 7 times and I was so thankful that the block building, in which we were seated, did not fall!
Happy and Sad Memories
The city of Ozark was the home of Fort Rucker. Christians who were members of the military stationed at this base would find where the church building was located and the times of our various assemblies. Most became active in the work of the church and there was, perhaps, 40 percent of our membership made up of faithful personnel.
One Sunday morning a young man approached me about the teachings of the Bible. There were some questions in his mind about certain aspect of Christianity and he expressed those concerns. I gave him some material to read and later we had some discussions about those topics. Sunday morning, August 12, 1962, he responded during the singing of the 'invitation song' and expressed his desire to be immersed into Christ for the remission of his sins. His name was Robert N. Bradley, known to us as Bob. He later married Virginia Cole and they had two daughters. Following their stay in Ozark, he was stationed at Ft. Benning, Georgia. Bob was a helicopter aviator. He was sent to Viet Nam during that conflict and, on one mission, his ship was shot down. Bob lost his life in the service of his country.
It was March of 1967 that Virginia called, while we were living in Elba, Alabama, and informed me of his death. Our hearts were broken. I flew to Michigan and was one of the speakers at his funeral, which was conducted in the church building of Swartz Creek. Some memories you never forget. I am so thankful that in the providence of God, Bob became His child but tears still come to my eyes when I think of his death, the wife he left behind, and two beautiful daughters he never saw grow to become adults.
Our Oldest Child Was a 'Kindergarten Dropout'
This particular kindergarten was free, so Virginia and I decided to send our oldest son. Well, it was only a short time before he declared that he no longer wanted to attend such a place. However first grade was required. Now, where we lived on Byrd Circle, you could see the elementary building but you would have thought it was a hundred miles removed because of the wailing and weeping of his mother as our firstborn was 'leaving home'. Our 'kindergarten drop out' is now Dr. Tim Elliott, a professor at Texas A&M.
Prayerfully, A Better Christian Than My Being A Golfer
Jimmy and Libby Murray and family were in attendance for worship assemblies but Jimmy was not a Christian. We became good friends and I wondered how to find the opportunity to study the Bible with him. I had tried my hand at golf while living in Savannah, so one day I approached Jim, who was a very good golfer, and made this suggestion, "If you will teach me how to play better golf, I will teach you more about the Bible." Without any hesitation he agreed to my proposition and informed me that on a certain day he would pick me up at 9:41 a.m. I thought to myself, this person is going to expect perfection by setting the exact time of 9:41! Why not 9:45 or 10:00? It was then that I learned a weakness of my good friend. He was, generally, never on time. Jimmy did become a Christian after several sessions of Bible study and, in time, became an elder in the church. It was a loss for us all when his life ended at the young age of 57, but none moreso, than his widow, Libby. Jim and Libby have three sons with a cippling disease. Two are married and one lives with a sister. I'm sure they all have missed a loving father and a fine man.
With Some Apprehension We Did Move From Ozark
Now you might ask why, so I'll tell you. You see, our oldest child, Timothy, was born in 1956 while I was a student at Alabama Christian College in Montgomery. Joel was born in the Ashland Hospital in 1958, when we lived in Lineville, Alabama. Angela was born in Savannah, Georgia during my time preaching for the Garden City church in 1960. Matthew was born in 1963 while we lived in Ozark. Now do you understand our hesitancy?
We have been blessed with three sons and one daughter, but back to Matthew and his being born in Ozark. There were many individuals who thought Jimmy Murray and I favored in physical appearance. One day, while Virginia was in the Dale County Hospital (back then, they kept new mothers in the hospital for 4 or 5 days), Jimmy went to visit her. He met a nurse at the door and she said something to him, like, "Since you are the father you may go in". I don't remember if Jimmy stuttered or not on this occasion but he got that impression cleared up in a hurry!
Why Another Blog?
Over the years I have had various experiences in working with people. Some humorous and some not so humorous. If you know me personally, you know I enjoy a good, clean joke. In fact, some will say that it 'sounds like a Raymond joke' when they hear a particular kind.
True humor to me, is that which happens unplanned and unrehearsed. I believe that has contributed to my sanity over the 56+ years of preaching and working with the brethren. To try and have a positive attitude in life, to retain the pleasant and good memories of years past helps one physically, emotionally, and mentally. We read in Proverbs 15:13, "A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance, but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken". Again in 17:22, "A merry heart does good, like medicine. But a broken spirit dries the bones".
I do "love life" (1 Peter 3:10). God is truly my "refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble" (Psalm 45:1). I enjoy an "abundant life" because of Jesus Christ, who gave His life for me (John 10:10). I hope you find the following remembrances enjoyable and entertaining.