What a Legacy They Left
Café Menu Friday, May 29, 2015
Today’s Special is: Four Ordinary People Who Led Extraordinary Lives
Carefully prepared just for you by your friend, Dawn Neely
Call to Me and I will answer you and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.
Jeremiah 33:3 NASB
I have been tremendously blessed to have both Christian parents and in-laws. Jack and Barbara Spainhour are my parents and Kirk and Louise Neely, my wonderful mother and father-in-love. Both my mom and dad and my father-in-love went to be with the Lord within a year of one another in 2011-2012. Louise Neely entered heaven on Easter Monday, 2001.
My father was orphaned at age 12 and was raised by his Quaker grandparents until he entered Davidson College on a tennis scholarship. After developing a romantic relationship with my mom, they eloped and moved to Virginia, where dad worked as an accountant. Following the birth of their first child, dad found himself recruited to the Navy where he served honorably in WWII.
He pulled many men from the ocean in Japan when their frigate was torn into by a kamikaze plane. Five other children were born in our family and dad worked diligently to send all of us to college, and graduate, medical and pharmacy school. Dad served as church treasurer for 60 years at First Baptist, Lenoir. He signed his last check as treasurer for the church at age 90.
Kirk Neely owned Neely’s Building Supplies in Spartanburg, SC. He and his wife Louise parented eight children. Four sons are in the ministry, and two daughters are married to doctors; another daughter is married to the Chaplin of the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, SC and their youngest daughter was married to a pharmacist. Her husband Bruce, a talented and godly man lost his fight to cancer last year.
Kirk did not serve in the military oversees but rather at Camp Croft in Spartanburg where he unloaded trucks loaded with military supplies and saw that they were appropriately dispersed to the proper installation. He used his building supply business to construct many homes, businesses and churches in Spartanburg and the surrounding communities.
He was a life deacon at First Baptist, Spartanburg and served his church faithfully in various capacities including teaching Sunday School for 60 years. One of the last assignments he volunteered for was to teach the 4th grade boys in Vacation Bible School. His reason? He said, “Well, I’ve never done it before and I think I know how.” He was 86 years old that summer.
My mother was a stay-at-home mom for many years, and served her family as a homemaker, a chauffeur, nurse, counselor, referee, creative consultant, camp counselor, and chef. She worked tirelessly at church, leading Sunbeams, Training Union, Sunday School and serving as church secretary for a season.
When we began going to college she decided to help financially so she entered nursing school and graduated with her RN degree. She worked third shift in the new born baby nursery for many years. She worked all night, came home to get us ready to go to school, and then slept during the day.
I learned the true meaning of faith from my mother’s example, for she absolutely depended on the Lord for everything. She was my greatest cheerleader and a person who gave of her best to everyone. She was funny, charming, beautiful and in love with my father. The year my parents died, they had been married 70 years.
Louise Neely was one of the most influential people in my life. Her love of the Lord and her selfless dedication to Him was inspiring. She used her life to give to others. She arranged for the India Children’s Choir to come to America and perform all over the United States. She opened her home to orphans and dignitaries alike, never asking for anything in return.
Her gift was hospitality and her decorating skills and food presentation were well known all over Spartanburg and beyond. She was the mother of eight and grandmother of 44 grandchildren; each one were recipients of her unconditional love.
I honor my parents and my in-laws because they never sought glory or honor for themselves. They went about their tasks in dedication to God and always were sure to give Him the glory. Their examples of love toward one another, love for their children, forgiveness, grace, mercy, and service were not done for recognition, but as unto the Lord. There could be no greater tribute to their memory than to continue to worship God and serve Him faithfully, as they taught us to do.
My parents and my husband’s parents took their children to church. They led our families in Bible studies. They prayed with us and were true to their convictions. There was never any question as to where we would be on Sunday morning. Our parents served in church, loved and worshipped God, and taught us to do the same.
What a legacy they left for all of us to follow and for that I am grateful. I long to be reunited with them in heaven one day. But until Christ returns or calls us home, my allegiance is to God and my gratitude is to the parents and in-laws God allowed me to know and love. To God be the glory, great things He has done!
Perhaps you did not have the blessing of a godly mother or father. Yet God tells us to honor our father and mother. We can honor them through love, prayer and a godly example of what it truly means to love as Christ loves us.
If you struggle with your relationship with your parents, make it a matter of prayer and trust the Lord to bridge any gap that may exists.
Thank You for the extraordinary lives that my parents and in-laws lived before us. Thank You for the examples of faithfulness they were to our families. They might be considered ordinary people in this world we live in, but through faith in You they were able to serve You in incredible ways. They touched many peoples’ lives, including mine. Thank You God for the blessing of godly parents. May I also be found a faithful child of God as a spouse, parent and grandparent because, at the end of the day it is the only thing that really matters. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
© 2015 by Dawn Neely. All rights reserved.
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Originally published Friday, 29 May 2015.