Some thoughts about a friend

Crenshaw info

Today being a Labor Day and also being part of the week that we celebrate and mourn together the life of Brother Crenshaw made me think about his love for his labor.

Many of us enjoy our labor. But fewer of us are lucky enough to have a job that we truly love. I think that Brother Crenshaw not only enjoyed his work, but he loved his labor. He saw the importance of following God and teaching others to do the same and he had the great honor of doing that for many, many years.

Evangelist just isn’t a big enough title for the work that he did. Preacher, pastor, friend, leader, teacher, motivator, encourager, patriarch, father, husband, uncle, pawpaw, and so many more are the titles that were used for him.

I think it’s pretty normal to think about the past times we’ve had with someone when they pass away. That’s what I’ve been doing over the last week since I received the news that his time here on earth had finished.

First I knew him through his daughter. We met during our college years and became friends and roommates.  I may not have known it at the time but I think much of her excellent work ethic was inspired by him. In the same way he tirelessly studied the Bible before sharing it with us, she focused on her studies and learned the material well. Whatever she was tasked with doing, not only did she do, but she did it well. I’m thinking much of that persistence came from observing him as she grew up.

Next I met him a handful of times as he visited her in California and then at her wedding. Though those times passed very quickly there was no mistaking his love for family. I could easily see it.

Then I moved to Oklahoma as a newlywed and worshipped with him at the Northeast Church of Christ. His passion for God’s Word was undeniable. Not only did he know it well, he also explained it well. The energy and passion he shared as he preached was engaging. At times it seemed he had most of the Bible memorized. Yes, he was holding one in his hand, but he sure seemed to just be quoting most of the time. I was encouraged by his obvious love for not only his church, but also for the surrounding area. He was passionate about finding ways to improved the daily lives of people, and he looked for practical ways to help do that.

While in Oklahoma I had the privilege of meeting more of his family. What a blessing! I could see his love of God had permeated his loved ones. The welcoming spirit that Brother Crenshaw shared with so many around the country had been passed on to his loved ones. They too were welcoming, focused on knowing God, and serving Him. It was cool to see his leadership in action both at church and in his family.

Then I had the privilege of reconnection last year after quite awhile apart. The peace that washed over me as I said hello and was welcomed with open arms was a true testament to the power of Christ in him. He lived out the sermons he’d preached about reconciliation, and I and my family benefitted from that living sermon.

Though struggling with significant health issues he built a relationship with my kiddo and loved on both of us. One example of his generosity and love in action: at Charlestons he had ordered salmon and broccoli. When my 4 year old said that she liked salmon, he immediately handed over a piece for her to sample. When she followed that up with “I like broccoli too” another forkful of food came her way. Yes, he shared right off his plate.

So, as I join many who are preparing to attend a wake and funeral services this week, I am thankful to have benefitted so much from this humble servant. I’m thankful for the way he labored and loved.

 

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Prayers of a 5 year old

Today in Bible class the preschoolers had a lesson about prayer based on a book called Praying in Color.

As you’d imagine, some of the kids were more into the activity than others. The idea was that instead of talking out loud to God they can doodle. As they create a shape and decorate it they’re thinking about the person they write in the middle and those thoughts become the prayers as their pencil does the drawing.

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It was so cool to see Joanna share her prayer with Morgan tonight before bed. She worked on it the whole time she was at the table. First she asked how to spell Kelly, as we went to her funeral last week so Joanna wanted to pray for her and those who are missing her. Then she asked how to spell Uncle Ben, I just gave her the letters for Ben and that was good enough. She prayed that he’ll quit smoking and make good choices. The blue letters going up on the right spell Grandpa -she’s praying that he’s healthy because he had a fever today. Next she moved on to people she’s thankful for and did Mom and Dad all on her own on the bottom. She finished it up with the blue and orange, spelling Uncle Tom. She has lots of aunts and uncles but he was on her mind today.

While the kids worked on their own pages I did one too. It was a surprisingly good experience for me. I’m thinking that today’s lesson may inspire on a new habit for me and Joanna. We could spend some time together working on our own booklet of prayers, taking a bit of time each day to doodle and pray. I love that it’s something that we can do individually and together at the same time.

Time to do LST again!

After a 7 year hiatus we’re excited to be planning to participate in a Let’s Start Talking project this coming summer.

We’re still working out the details of where we’ll be serving and whether or not our team will be bigger than the 3 of us (let me know if you wanna join us), but we have applied, have started re-reading Luke, and are beginning the fundraising process.

So, join us if you can! Check out some ways:

  • Join our team and go with us.
  • Pray about the work.
  • Make a financial donation. If you’re not a fan of giving online we can send you an envelope, just let me know and we’ll get one on the way to you 🙂

Though there are lots of details still to be decided, we do know that the main work we’ll be doing is helping people learn about God’s love by reading Luke and practicing English. We’ve seen such change in people’s attitudes about Scripture in the past by spending time reading with us that we know lives can be changed by our willingness to serve in this way.

We’re looking forward to the project and hopeful you’ll join us in anyway you can!

Here’s the link again in case you’re able to give online: https://give.idonate.com/lets-start-talking-estes-family/support#donate

Thankful for an encouraging word

This has been a hard week. I’ve found myself angry, heartbroken, confused, fearful, hurt, and so many other things. And, it’s so overwhelming, I just haven’t had words. I haven’t known how to reach out, how to respond.

Knowing that we live in a time where racism still exists, where people hurt and kill each other because we look different is just heartbreaking. And, the problem seems huge, long-standing, and near impossible to know how to address.

But, as so often happens, gathering with my church family today was a good thing. Being together reminded me that there are places that love instead of hate is expressed. Hearing Brother Hill share his thoughts and experiences was an encouragement. Being reminded that we are in a battle not with each other, but with evil was good. Being reminded to love people with abandonment was a good thing.

As Brother HIll quoted “red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight” My sweet 4-year old looked up from her coloring with excitement in her eyes and voice and said “that’s my song”. Hearing her excitement at recognizing a song of Biblical truth and knowing that some of her best friends have skin that is different than hers gives me hope for our future.

So, if you want to shed a few tears and get some encouragement, check out the video from this morning. I think you’ll be glad you did.

From previous experiences I already had great respect for Brother Hill, but hearing his words this morning made me thankful again for the great people that surround me here in this stage of life. Helping us refocus on truth this morning was a good thing. Not an easy thing, but a good thing.