My grandmother entered into the Lord's presence on April 19th of this year. She lived for Him and to spread His love in this world. I was blessed with the chance to speak at her memorial service, and here is (a brief account of) her story.
Phillipians 1:21 "For me, to live is Christ, to die is gain."
My grandfather, Frank Carmody, was a preacher and would often travel to churches to preach for revivals or special occasions. God had brought together a great team, because wherever Frank preached, Pauline would sing. I was not lucky enough to hear her sing in her prime, but those who did say that her beautiful soprano voice would give you goosebumps. Her version of "Were you there," was second only to Johnny Cash's, in my father's opinion.
While Frank preached the Good News, she sang about it, and God changed lives through them. She would touch your heart and soul with her voice. In fact, it was partly because of her singing that my grandfather became a follower of Christ. She and her siblings would always gather around the piano and sing hymns together. Once she had a group of daughters, they would do the same, and that's what I remember as a child. My first experience with a piano was at her house, and now music is a huge part of my life. Through the years, her voice became less powerful; but we can rejoice today because she is most definitely joining with a chorus of angels singing praises to God with a voice as beautiful as it once was.
Matt 25:34-36 "Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'"
We've all heard the old maxim, "eyes are the windows to the soul." This does not mean that the more beautiful someone's eyes are, so is their soul. What it means is that the way someone views the world will show you what their soul is like. Pauline saw the world through the lens of compassion. She saw all people as equal, and in the 50's and 60's that was rare. She showed love to all of God's children, no matter their race, status, appearance, cleanliness, health, etc.
I hope to write a book with the help of my father, about "The Mission" where my grandfather served as a preacher. There once was a place outside of Beulahville, NC called "Purgatory," where everything illegal was happening: prostitution, drugs, gambling, you name it! There wasn't a church in site. Frank was driving through there one day and picked up a man who was in need of a ride. Frank talked to him about church, and the man said that no church would come near Purgatory, so Frank said that Sunday he was coming to this man's house and they would have a church service right there. Well 2 became 10, and that became 20, and before the year ended, 100 people were baptized at this new church in Purgatory, which was aptly named "New Hope Baptist Mission."
Pauline partnered with her husband and showed love to "the least of these," not only during their time at the mission, but her whole life. The folks at New Hope called her Miss Pauline. She hugged everyone, no matter their smell, sickness, skin color, or social standing. She was the arms of Christ and the love of God to people who were "unlovable" to most.
Matt 5:14-16 "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."
Whenever I stayed the night with my grandparents, I wondered whether my grandmother was a little crazy. Before going to bed, she would always set up all these booby traps around the windows and doors (i.e. an ironing board, aluminum cake pans). Yeah, a little like this:
I never understood the reasoning (except what I thought was paranoia about a burglar), until recently. My grandfather shared that she always left all the lights on outside the house at night. This was in case anyone had car trouble and needed assistance. They lived at a fairly busy intersection, so that made sense. So it turns out, a few people were in need. One night Frank awoke to an empty bed and found Pauline in the living room chatting with a stranger who'd had some car trouble and was waiting for her help to arrive. Another night a man knocked on the door asking if he could sleep on the porch. She admitted to Frank that she was a little nervous about this one, but next thing he knew, she was taking him a glass of milk, food, and some blankets.
She never let her light stop shining. In the middle of the night, you could see the light of Jesus Christ shining at the Carmody home, and there you would find whatever it is you needed.
2 Timothy 4:6-7 For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
She undoubtedly poured out her life for us, for everyone. Whether we knew her as Mom, Grandma, Memaw, Miss Pauline, Aunt Pauline, or just as Pauline, we knew that she loved us. The Good News of Jesus Christ for her became good news to everyone around her. She received His love and grace, and poured it out with her own life. We mourn for the loss of a saintly woman. We mourn because she was a blessing to those around her, and the world will miss her. But let us not mourn too long, because I know that she wants us to continue her story. She lived a great story, but what made it so great is that she was not the author. She allowed God to write it, and she willingly followed His lead. Let us remember everything she did, but not only with our words; let us also live out the Gospel just as she did. Spread the Good News of Jesus Christ, love everyone, and let your light shine.
Beard of the Week: My friend Jimmy McAfee's (because sadly, he shaved it). It was pretty swell, though. Here it is as a young beard, as we attempt a great feat.
Beat of the Week: Classic Metallica, because GH: Metallica has restored my love for them! :)