Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A tribute to Carole Lloyd

This is the day the Lord has made.  Let us rejoice and be glad in it.
It’s hard to be happy today as I received word yesterday that Carole Lloyd passed away.  I spent some time re-reading her Caring Bridge site this morning and came across this verse that Carole posted.  She posted it during her difficult journey with brain cancer.  The verse shares her and her husband, Neal’s, abiding faith.  Even though their journey was very difficult, they still had the faith to share joy.    
I got to know Neal and Carole when Neal came to serve First Presbyterian Church in Rochester.   I was serving in Plainview at the time.  Neal was an excellent colleague who did an excellent job at First Church.  Though he is very nice, Neal eschewed “Minnesota Nice.”  If I wanted to know the unvarnished truth about a situation I would contact Neal.  He always shared it with grace, professionalism, and love.
Through Neal I had the privilege of meeting Carole.  I have too many memories of Carole to share in a short blog, but two immediately come to mind.  For some reason they both have to do with job applications.
The first came when we at Plainview were hiring a part-time Christian Educator.  This was a significant step for our congregation, and we were very committed to hiring the right person.  Carole threw her name in the ring as an applicant.  Her experience in the Logos program and experience in the church made her far and away the best candidate.  I was almost giddy at the prospect of working with her. 
Before her interview with the hiring committee she went to the sanctuary to spend some time in prayer.  A few days after the interview she called me to share that she was withdrawing from the position.  She shared that while she was praying she realized she didn’t want to work as hard as the position required.  Her phase of life didn’t match the requirements of the job.
I’ve never been as touched by someone withdrawing from a job.   I was disappointed, but moved by Carole’s prayerful and ultimately wise decision. 
The second came when I was turned down by a job.  I had my heart set on a church and through the interview process had consulted Neal for his sage advice.  One Saturday afternoon I received a rejection letter in the mail.  I was wounded.  I called Neal.  He wasn’t there, but Carole was.  She listened with tender care and pastoral sensitivity.  “It must be hard for you,” she eventually said “because now you have to go back to a place you had left in your heart.” 
Bullseye.  Carol had nailed what I was feeling.  Ultimately I went back with my heart and experienced some significant accomplishments over the next years.  Carole’s words were exactly what I needed to hear at the time.  I know that I am not the only one who has received her prescient words
The last time I saw Carole was when she and Neal came to visit Amy, Hannah, and me in our new home in Blaine.  We sat on our deck and got caught up.  We were all happy to see each other.  Neal and Carole were interested in how Amy and Hannah were adjusting to our new surroundings and were interested in our new church.  They shared how their life in retirement was.
We parted certain that we would see each other soon.  But Carole’s cancer changed that. 
Carole’s Caring Bridge site is a remarkable testimony to her faith.  Despite the severe physical challenges of her affliction with cancer, she responded with the grace, grit, and joy that ultimately defined her.  Those of us who are left are unhappy today, but we know that Carole has left us with joy.

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