Wednesday, November 13, 2013

In EVERYTHING give thanks . . .

I originally posted this in November 2010.  I feel compelled to share it again, as this month marks the 20th anniversary of little Peggy's death.

Our church is currently preparing for the annual Thanksgiving supper referenced in this story. When I think of the many who will be ministered too during this event, I cannot help but be reminded of this little girl.
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays - we have so much to be thankful for and too often take things for granted. I don't know if you're like me, but there are actually times that I feel guilty when I see how much food we have leftover at the end of the day and I think of those who have nothing. It saddens me to think of those who are alone and have no one to spend Thanksgiving with. Not a Thanksgiving goes by that I'm not reminded of a little girl, who didn't have all the blessings that most of us have been given.

I often tell people who ask, that I learned to smock and began sewing children's clothing when I was single and had too much time on my hands. I have always loved to sew and be creative, but in my early twenties I decided to learn to smock. At the time, I never knew how much sewing would become a part of my life. One of the first dresses I ever smocked and constructed is pictured above. It wasn't fancy - just pink batiste, which I probably purchased from Wal-Mart because I just didn't know any better.  The only dress pattern I had at the time that allowed for smocking was a McCalls pattern that had tucks on the sleeves and at the hem. The smocking plate is "Alice" by Gayle Meyers, which was the plate given to me in my smocking class and was the only plate I owned at the time.  But enough about the dress, let me tell you about the little girl.

The church that I grew up in (and still attend) has always had a large bus ministry that reached out to some of the most poverty stricken areas of the city and brought children to Sunday School and church. As a young adult, I was very unhappy attending the Sunday School class intended for single ladies, because I felt like I was in a roomful of "old maids". I have always loved children and enjoyed working with them, so I volunteered to teach a children's class. This is where I met Peggy. Peggy's older brother was in my 4 & 5 year old Sunday School class. I'll never forget the first Sunday she came to Sunday School with him. She couldn't have been more than 3 years old and could barely talk. I remember wondering how in the world a mother could put a baby on a church bus with complete strangers and send them to church alone. Now, with children of my own, it is even more incomprehensible to me.  Peggy began attending faithfully each Sunday with her brother. Most Sundays she was dirty and hungry, as were many of the other "bus kids". Because of this, we would always have cookies before our Sunday school lesson - nothing fancy, just those cheap, grocery store brand, creme-filled cookies. Peggy would always hang around a little bit after everyone had left to get a second helping on the cookies. In the fall, children were promoted into the 1st Grade class, but because of her very young age, Peggy got to stay in my class for a few years.

In the spring of 1992, I had just learned to smock.  I knew that a lot of children (even many "bus kids") would have on something special for Easter.  On most Sundays, Peggy had worn dirty, ill-fitting clothes, so I REALLY wanted her to have a pretty new dress for Easter.  The day before Easter, my dad (who drove the bus that picked Peggy up for church) drove me to the apartments where she lived. I remember being so nervous about how her parents would receive my "gift" and if they would even take the time to dress her in it on Sunday. On Sunday morning, she looked so pretty and was so proud of her new dress, and I'll have to admit I was thrilled to see her wearing it. I love the feeling of doing something for someone - not for praise or what they can do for you in return - but just for the joy of doing it.

By the time fall came, Peggy was six years old and was promoted to the 1st Grade class, but I still saw her faithfully every Sunday. She would come by for a visit after Sunday School to see if I had any extra cookies, and of course, I always made sure that there were a couple left over for her and her brother. A couple of days before Thanksgiving 1993 Peggy was in her place for the big "Thanksgiving Supper" hosted each year by the church. On the afternoon of Thanksgiving day, she was missing. Her body was found the day after Thanksgiving, not very far from her home, but as of this writing no one has been charged with her death.

I know that God has a purpose in all things. When I volunteered to teach a children's class, it was all part of God's plan. I'm thankful that God allowed Peggy to influence my life.  I only hope that I was as much of a blessing to her as she was to me.

Matthew 10:42 "And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward."

If you would like to learn more about the annual Thanksgiving supper, please visit