Harrison Women's Connection
Beautiful autumn harvest decor created the perfect setting for a time of thanksgiving at the November gathering of the Harrison Women’s Connection.
After a prayer of thanksgiving by Norma Pollock and announcements by Chairman Carol Cassady, door prizes were awarded to Jayman Roten, Kathryn Jones, Barbara Pottorf, Cathy Savage and Amy Young.
Vice Chair Martha Quinn discussed how gratitude is shown in different ways. Sometimes it is expressed through our words while at other times we express it by helping others.
Quinn continued with the story of a few grateful women who noticed some struggling women around them. They saw the hurting, poor, and suffering. This group of Women's Connection women made their North Carolina community a better place because they joined forces to bring light to dark places.
An Outreach Coordinator, Susan Shepard, organized events for military women and Christmas gatherings for women in the work place, as well as for women who are battered or grappling with addiction. The Women's Connection readily volunteered for these various outreaches. Susan invited those from an abused women's shelter to her home where they were honored and valued. The Women's Connection served those from the shelter as they were treated to brunch, inspirational gifts and even neck messages from a message therapist. Their children had a fun time of fun and games. As the women left the event, some shed tears as they thanked the Women’s Connection ladies for serving at the event. These shelter women had little, yet their hearts were full of gratitude.
Across the country, women like ours, are reaching into their communities to improve quality of life and to provide love and concern through their service.
This month HWC’s local project is to support Tetelestai House, which is a place for women coming out of the local jail system who want to make a change in their lives but do not have a place to go after leaving jail to accomplish this. Their needs at present are; non perishable food items, coffee, cleaning supplies, laundry supplies, clothes hangers, trash bags, paper items, bottled water, KJV soft black bibles, printer paper, legal pads and notebooks.
Musicians Abbie and Ed Potter shared their talents in voice, keyboard and harmonica, through music selections,“A Christmas Medley” and “Amazing Grace.”
The Special Feature was presented by Rhonda Graham, director of “Informed Choices Women’s Center in Harrison.” Her organization defends the unborn and pours into the lives of men and women who desperately need support, education and mentoring to help make positive life affirming choices. Graham is a retired special educator and behavior specialist in crisis intervention, and has the ability to help those who find themselves in a crisis pregnancy.
Featured speaker Patty Parker’s message was entitled “From Wreckage to Restoration” as she revealed the wreckage and restoration of her life. She began by asking the attendees a question. “What if a big semi truck was coming toward you and veered to your side of the road swiping you and causing a wreck, but just swished on to its destination? Some are clean and polished showing pride in their business on wheels, but when there is an accident, the results are a shiny new truck becoming wreckage (not to mention what happened to your car.) Once this happens it takes a skilled repairman to bring the wreckage back to its shiny state. All the dents, scratches and damaged pieces must be restored. What a process!” Parker went on to apply this analogy to her life as she shared how the wreckage of her life was gradually restored.
Parker shared how she was raised in a dysfunctional unsafe home and didn’t have a good example of what to look for in a mate. She related that “she didn’t have the help, guidance and protection that a solid home offers. However, she did feel an inner warning not to enter into the marriage that she did.” She said that at an early age she allowed herself to be pressured against her better judgment, and entered into the wreckage of a marriage. She had met Floyd in high school, who gave her the rush and possessed an aggressiveness that she had not experienced before. She said she tried to break up with this unhealthy relationship, but was overpowered. He was relentless with his pressure and they were married right after high school graduation.
She was devastated, confused and overwhelmed and felt like she was coming head on into the path of a semi truck. She shared that the experience of this married life left her with major dents and damage and knew she desperately needed restoration.
Describing this major collision, she turned to God for help through her obstacles. She determined that she would commit to being the best wife she could be, and made attempts to communicate a good foundation for marriage; however, it brought outbursts of anger and aggression. She said Floyd was always on the go and they had no bonding time together. He declared violently that he would not attend church. However, he did, but then hid the fact that he smoked, drank and gambled. She felt hopeless, devastated, trapped and betrayed. She said she was experiencing major dents and scratches from the collision of immovable objects. She fell into deep depression.
Parker admitted, although she had come to faith as a child, she was not living in a ‘trust relationship’ with God which resulted in her worrying and trying to fix things on her own. After three years she wanted to end the marriage and left Floyd, but her father shamed her into returning to him because there had never been a divorce in their family.
Parker said even in their marriage turmoil they desired to have a child. She couldn’t conceive so they considered adoption, but she questioned placing a baby in a stress filled home. She prayed for God’s will in giving them a child. Five years into their marriage, and after a problematic pregnancy, Brenda was born. She and the baby were not safe with Floyd’s continued abusive behavior and heavy drinking so she filed for divorce. She went to live with her mom and stepfather to rebuild her life. Floyd followed and persuaded her to start over again.
Parker realized by this time, that she had to completely let God take over their situation and believe what the Bible said about “all things are possible with God.” She remembered the verse in Romans 8:28, “All things work together for those who love God, and are called according to His purpose.” She acknowledged that God had a purpose for her life and was able to fulfill that purpose with her surrender. She said that her love for the Bible and God’s promises filled her with hope and peace. She said, “This was the big difference. God may deliver us in the midst of an abusive situation, or deliver us out of it. I am not advocating remaining in an abusive situation, just letting God be in control. I believed that He could change my life and my situation. He had changes to make in each of us.”
Parker acknowledged that God’s ways and thoughts are higher than ours, and that He was working within Floyd, even though it was not evident for a long time. She vowed not to complain and embarked upon giving thanks to God for what He was doing in their lives. She recalled how God had said to walk in love and be obedient to Him, even though they were still having a troubled marriage. Their son Dennis was born during this stressful time.
Parker recalled financial hardship, but God provided for them in so many ways. The verbal and physical abuse along with unfaithfulness continued. Floyd was in a series of four different centers for alcoholism. When she asked if she could pray for his alcoholism to be removed from him, he agreed. The years of prayer and believing were answered and the drinking ceased.
Parker related they moved to Montana where their third child, Susan, was born . Their fourth child Dawn Marie, arrived after they later moved to Minnesota. Parker could see how God protected herself and the children in so many ways. Floyd became employed and their financial situation improved. However, he still openly defied God and blamed Him for their problems.
Parker opened a day care and a Bible study in their home. She prayed that Floyd would receive Christ as Savior even though he ridiculed her during the times she had devotions with the children. He was well known for his acute profanity. She was surprised when years later he agreed to let their children attend a Christian University and visited them often.
Parker shared that after their children were grown Floyd was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer. Before he left the hospital he asked her to pray with him to receive Jesus as his Savior and gave Him control of his life. She and the children rejoiced in his transformation of peace and gentleness after 41 years of abuse in their marriage.
Parker stated that Floyd had gone “from wreckage to shiny,” just as a semi truck does after the skilled repairman removes all of the dents, scratches and flaws. He died peacefully with his loving family around him.
Parker confessed how God was still working on her, removing the dents and scratches and damage that had occurred in her life. She concluded by asking the question, “Have you put your life into the hands of the ‘Master Repairman’?. No wreck is so bad that it cannot be perfectly repaired. We cannot repair ourselves. We must accept the Repairman’s ability to make us brand new.”
Patty Parker was born in Southern California, but was raised in Minnesota. She has four children, twenty one grandchildren and five great grandchildren. She is remarried to a wonderful husband, Dennis.
You are cordially invited to Harrison Women’s Connection’s Christmas Brunch, Dec. 10, from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at First Baptist Church, 1400 S. Pine St. Speakers Judy and Jerry Mefford will give their message, “And the Rest of the Story.” Special Feature and music will be Susan and Caleb Duvall.
Submitted by Twyla Cramer