From the time I first met her, having married into Jerry’s family, my sister-in-law Mildred has been an inspiration to me. She is full of joy, energy and enthusiasm. She is an amazing woman whose attitude belies her life’s story and the circumstances with which she has dealt. Her husband, a heavy drinker, died of emphysema when she was in her 40s, I believe, while she still had children at home. She went to work for Wal-Mart and was with them for many years. She is 86 now and is spunky, beautiful and joyful. (Wish I had a picture to show you.) When she was 80 she painted her entire house, and recently when Jerry spoke to her on the phone, she said she had just poured cement steps at her house.
She seems to be perennially happy, she loves God, the church, and her pastor. She brags about him, and tells of baking goodies for him, and of having him and his wife to her house for dinner.
She’s never had many physical possessions–lives in a very modest home in Mansfield, La, and more than one of her children have brought her grief. She’s had sons who have spent time in prison, and girls with severe health problems. For many years, only one of her children served God. But in recent times God has rewarded her faithfulness and her astonishing joyful attitude. Now several of her children and grandchildren serve God, and during the past few years, one of her grandsons has entered the ministry.
She is the personification of the scripture in Isaiah 61: 1-3 (portions)
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me…to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness, that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.”
Today, I salute Mildred Rogers, and others of you, who despite challenging circumstances find a way to catch a fist-full of joy. The world is a better place because of you.
It is said that as Benjamin Franklin concluded a stirring speech on the guarantees of the Constitution, a heckler shouted, “Aw, them words don’t mean nothin’ at all. Where’s all the happiness you say it guarantees us?” Franklin smiled and replied, “My friend, the Constitution only guarantees the American people the right to pursue happiness; you have to catch it yourself.”