Loretta’s Bibles

Ann H Gabhart Ann's Posts, One Writer's Journal 24 Comments

Loretta and AnnSometimes you are blessed to get to know a person who is gifted with those fruits of the Spirit named in Galatians 5: 22-23. Love. Joy. Peace. Longsuffering. Kindness. Goodness. Faithfulness. Gentleness. Self-control.  I have been so blessed and our little country church was so blessed to have Loretta Riley as that Christian person. I didn’t get to know her until she had already celebrated a number of birthdays. For several years, she was unable to attend church due to caring for her bedridden mother. But eventually she was able to return to our fellowship after her mother passed on to heaven. That’s when I got to know her and Earl, her husband. What a beautiful example of faithfulness they both were! They got to celebrate their 75th anniversary with a big party at our church. Then not long after that, at age 96, Earl moved on ahead of Loretta up to heaven. Loretta missed him, but she trusted in the Lord to continue on with her until He was ready to call her home.

She celebrated 99 years of life in May 2015. Each year on her birthday, our church would go to her house since she was no longer able to attend services and help her celebrate a new year. Brenda, our pastor’s wife’s sister, started making her beautiful birthday cakes that Loretta appreciated so much. Here she is with the one that says 99. One year we put the wroLoretta 99ng age and made her a year younger. Loretta just laughed and set us straight. That was another thing about Loretta. She never had a minute’s problem with her memory. You wanted to know about something that had happened or the name of somebody in the neighborhood, all you had to do was ask Loretta.

We went to see Loretta for the last time in early December last year to share the Lord’s Supper and a time of fellowship with her. We didn’t know it would be the last time. We were already planning the great time we’d have with her celebrating 100 years. But it wasn’t meant to be. In January, Loretta went into the hospital with heart problems that caused her to have difficulty breathing. The doctors did their best, but eventually they gave her the news that she had mere days to live. What did Loretta do? She rejoiced. First, she told her children and grandchildren goodbye. She told our preacher goodbye. And then she told them how much she looked forward to being in heaven and seeing her Lord and the angels. No fear. No sorrow in her heart. She was ready to move on into eternity. She said she’d watch for us to join her there.

After she died, I mentioned on Facebook how we were sorry, as her church family, that we wouldn’t be able to celebrate that 100th milestone with Loretta. One of my Facebook friends wisely said there was no reason not to celebrate. She suggested we think up something special to do in memory of Loretta on her birthday. Maybe take a cake to a nursing home. Or flowers. Or whatever we could come up with to honor her memory.

So, since we knew how very much Loretta loved her Bible and read it every day, it seemed only right to see if we could raise enough money ($500) to donate 100 Gideon Bibles in her memory. Our church congregation is very small. Sometimes only 20 or 30 people attend on Sunday mornings. So some thought we might not be able to reach our goal. I had no doubt.

Then as things would have it, Loretta’s birthdate was actually on Sunday, May 15. So we invited her family and planned the kind of dinner we often took to her house when we visited. Sandwiches. Chips. Cookies. Nothing fancy. It seemed only right to do the same on a day when we were remembering our times with her. Of course, Brenda did make that fancy cake with 100 roses in memory of Loretta. Many of Loretta’s family came and filled several of our pews. They, too, wanted to contribute to Loretta’s Bibles.

BiblesLoretta was our church’s prayer warrior. She was always ready to take any shared concerns before the throne. It was such a blessing to have Loretta pray for us. For me.

Prayers were said about Loretta’s Bibles too. Prayers that were answered. When we made the final tally of money donated for Bibles in Loretta’s memory, enough was given for not 100 Gideon Bibles, but 325 Bibles. Way over our initial goal. And that was only right when we were giving in memory of a Christian woman like Loretta.

Now Loretta’s Bibles will go out into the world. We won’t be able to follow them to know the stories of the people those Bibles may touch. We put that into the Lord’s hands. Isaiah 55:11 says, “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” (NKJ)  I have no doubt that Loretta’s Bibles will prosper.

Thanks for reading. Come back Wednesday for a new mystery photo game. Got to give away some more books.

Comments 24

  1. Shelia

    What a lovely story of love and thoughtfulness.
    I have always loved being around the elderly they have much to share with those that will listen.
    Thank you for sharing this story with us.

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      Ann H Gabhart

      They do indeed, Shelia, and sometimes we don’t take the time to hear their stories. I’m sure Loretta and Earl had many more stories to share that I never got around to sitting with them long enough to hear. Glad you enjoyed this story.

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      Ann H Gabhart

      You are absolutely right, Shelia, and I know Loretta would be happy to know so many Bibles were going out into the world in her memory. She loved the Bible and put on that armor every day.

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  2. peggy clayton

    What a beautiful story and wow giving away all the bibles was such a great idea! I got my first bible when i was a teen and it was given to me from my godparents. I have it next to me and the only thing that i regret is that they didn;t write anything inside the bible. Although that is the type of people they were wonderful people with little frills . I can’t imagine not being able to read the bible every day due to not having one. My husband notes that all my friends that pass are in the bible as i put their obit in there so it is full of precious memories and wonderful passages.

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      Ann H Gabhart

      That journaling Bible I just gave away that you unfortunately didn’t win would have been perfect for you, Peggy. Plenty of room for writing memories and more. I’ve been out on the net doing more blog posts so you might enter those drawings and then starting Wednesday I’m having another giveaway game here of mystery pictures. So check back. And thanks for telling us about your first Bible. I suppose my parents gave me my first Bible. It was white, some kind of fake cardboard type leather, with my name engraved on it, and it zipped up. I also got a Gideon New Testament Bible when I was a 5th grader.

  3. Rhonda Christian

    Thank you to all who helped with the Bible donation in my grandmothers name. My grandmother Loretta was a wonderful woman and a very devoted christian lady to our Heavenly Father. I miss her so much. I was not able to attend the Life Celebration for her at Goshen but I am told it was not one to miss. Thank you Ann Gabhart for all you have done. Love and huggs to all at Goshen.

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      Ann H Gabhart

      We had a great time remembering Loretta. I enjoyed hearing the stories that some of the neighbors told about Loretta and Earl before I knew them. Wish you could have been there, Rhonda, but we did have a great day and a wonderful response to the Bible donations in Loretta’s memories. You are indeed blessed to have had such wonderful grandparents.

  4. Evelyn Hawkins

    What a beautiful tribute to a special lady ! I never got the pleasure of meeting Loretta, but I knew all her children .It is a joy to see one of those long ago school friends ! I saw Betty Sue at a funeral not long ago, she remembered me but my memory failed me . They were a very sweet family.

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      Ann H Gabhart

      They are a wonderful family, Evelyn, and mean so much to Goshen even though they now all attend other churches. Fun to remember the good times.

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  5. Kathi Hadden

    Love this woman as y’all do ! We need more God fearing women and men just like her ! I aim to be Loretta and won’t live as long I’m sure with my health problems but hope to make an impact in this world and share the Good news of Jesus ! What a blessing to read this this morning as we celebrate our grandsons eighth birthday today! Makes me want to do something like this with all his birthday money ! He may buck though got to have some Pokemon cards first! Y’all have a blessed day as I already have this morning! Thanks Ann for the smiles again !

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      Ann H Gabhart

      We can all aspire to be the Christian Loretta was, Kathi. And you never know about your years. Loretta started having health problems with her heart years ago but managed to keep going and still lived by herself and took care of her house until she moved up to heaven. She was a remarkable woman. Hope your grandson had a fun birthday. One of my grandsons likes those Pokemon cards.

  6. Joy Hannabass

    This is such a beautiful story Ann. What a beautiful precious lady Loretta was. And such a special way to honor her memory. The precious Gospel of Jesus will continue in Loretta name and honor.
    When you said she rejoyced when she found out she wasn’t here for long, I thought of my precious mom. She was only 79, in September she will celebrate 6 years in heaven. The night we lost her, the Dr told her he was going to give her some medicine and she wouldn’t wake up. She told him that was ok, she would wake up with her Lord. And she called each of her 5 kids in there, told us it was ok, we all had to face death and this was her time. Gave us a few instructions on living the rest of our lives. Told us she would see us again. As the time drew closer, her hospital room was full, she had an oxygen mask, but was able to talk. We were all telling her to tell Daddy hi and give him a hug, to tell other family and friends already in Heaven hi. Our pastor said it was like mama was getting ready to board a plane going on a long trip, and we were telling her to tell everyone Hi and hug them for us. Such a special time God gave us. God is so very faithful. He gives that dying grace just when we need it!

    Thanks for telling us Loretta’s story.

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      Ann H Gabhart

      What a beautiful story of “homegoing,” Joy. Thank you for sharing about your mother. She gave you all a gift, didn’t she? Even though you didn’t want to give her up, she showed you how you could. I like the way you word it. “Dying grace.” Your mother obviously had that and was ready to celebrate a good life with all of you and still ready to go on to heaven. Lovely and touching.

  7. Melanie Backus

    This is a beautiful post and I am so glad you shared it. We can all learn from this and extend a beautiful gesture like this when we have the opportunity. We all have beautiful people in our lives and how very blessed we are.

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      Ann H Gabhart

      We do all have wonderful people in our lives that we can use as examples for the way to live a good life. As you say, Melanie, we need to look around and see how blessed we are by those Christians walking life’s road with us.

  8. Karen Jones

    Oh, Ann! What a beautful tribute to a remarkable lady. After reading your tribute to her I felt as though I knew her personally! And how wonderful that you had a celebration on her birthday in her memory! The greatest thing is the donating of all the Bibles. . I believe that she was celebrating right along with you with her husband at her side!
    God bless you and your giving spirit,
    Karen

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      Ann H Gabhart

      One thing sure, Karen, if you had ever met Loretta, you would have been her friend. She would have hugged your neck and been ready to pray for you. I also felt like she and Earl might be celebrating with us. Earl loved to tell stories of things that had happened to them over the years and he was always ready to laugh at missteps he’d made like getting stuck on his tractor. I can imagine him telling stories about Loretta’s Bibles. And he might look over at her and ask for verification of some fact in his story like “how many Bibles was that?” And Loretta would always know. They were a beautiful couple. I’ll have to write about Earl sometime.

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      Ann H Gabhart

      Thank you, Pat. I was really proud of our little church for stepping up to the plate and doing this in memory of Loretta. While her family did help us boost the number of Bibles we were able to donate, nearly 200 of them were donated by the church members who loved Loretta.

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