Thrilling Guest Thursday: Lynn D. Morrissey

 
Lynn D. Morrissey, is a Certified Journal Facilitator (CJF), founder of Heartsight Journaling, a ministry for reflective journal-writing, author of Love Letters to God: Deeper Intimacy through Written Prayer and other books, contributor to numerous bestsellers, an AWSA and CLASS speaker, and professional soloist. She and her beloved husband, Michael, have been married since 1975 and have a college-age daughter, Sheridan. They live in St. Louis, Missouri.

You may contact Lynn at words@brick.net.

Please feel to comment on this post, as she will be checking comments. As all writers do, she appreciates feedback and your responses to her work.
 
 
The first time I met Lynn, she was sharing her passion for the written word at a Women’s Retreat. I reacquainted myself  with her many years later, when I recognized her at a local Christian bookstore. She has been encouraging me ever since with her journaling passion and love for all things writing, but most of all her rich, extravagant love for Jesus. Here’s a beautiful tribute written about a beautiful woman by another equally beautiful friend and woman of faith.
 
What a Friend
by Lynn D. Morrissey
 
Myrtle was dead. The shriveled brown body encasing her generous spirit let go at God’s command. Like autumn’s last leaf, thin and brittle as parchment, it drifted effortlessly to its final resting place.                                      
I met Myrtle years ago. What an unlikely pair we were, our backgrounds and temperaments as variegated as fall’s foliage. Myrtle was a venerable octogenarian of African-American descent–gracious, humble, and gentle. Yet her soft-spokenness was peppered with crisp humor and laughter that tinkled like a flurry of wind chimes. Her diminutive ninety-pound frame housed a prayer warrior who regularly conferred with her Captain and best friend, Jesus, whom she claimed could fixanything. And He did!
I was a thirty-something Caucasian with an impetuous nature. I loved God and His Word, but was frustrated by my faith that seemed to fluctuate like a round of Simon Says—two baby steps forward, three giant steps back. Solidly standing with feet firmly fixed on her Rock, Jesus Christ, Myrtle’s faith simply was.
I stuck close to Myrtle, hoping to absorb her faith secrets, and she was only too willing to share them. Every Sunday, we met in our church’s tiny chapel. Myrtle always left the doors open so people could join us for prayer, but few ever did. Myrtle, whose arthritis might have dictated otherwise, insisted we kneel at the altar rail. Inch by inch, she pleated like a weathered accordion, and with one heavy sigh—shooo—finally dropped to her knees. I preferred my comfortable pew seat, but knelt out of respect for Myrtle. She knelt out of respect for God.
Myrtle prayed like she talked, simply and sincerely. I, who had struggled with prayer for nearly ten years as a Christian, was amazed at the effortlessness of her petitions, as if she were chatting over the breakfast table with an intimate friend. One knew that when Myrtle prayed, Jesus knelt alongside us, His presence palpable.
Myrtle didn’t just pray to Jesus, she sang to Him, too. Her favorite hymn was What a Friend We Have in Jesus, and that was no surprise. She sang to her friend Jesus while she baked, washed, dusted, or tended the generational dozens of children entrusted to her care over the years. She told me that singing gave her spiritual strength. Myrtle sang most heartily in church, where she shone like polished piano ebony among mostly white keys.
Sometimes it disturbed me that Myrtle demonstrated what I considered to be a subservient attitude towards her Caucasian counterparts, calling each lady by Miss or Mrs. and her surname. Myrtle is just as good as they, I thought, and knows her Bible better and can pray rings around them!
In retrospect, although I believe Myrtle hailed from a generation plagued with societally imposed racial distinctions, I learned that her personality was characterized by subservience to Christ. His humble servant, she showed deference to others. Herhumility humbled me, and I longed to be more like her.
What a friend I had in Myrtle. I called her day or night, asking endless questions or relaying uncontrolled fears. She patiently listened, never criticizing, never minimizing my wrestling. She’d offer a Bible passage to enlighten, a prayer to uplift. “Jesus will fix it, Lynn,” she assured and I was soothed, though not always persuaded. My faith needed to grow.
Sometimes trials loomed larger than life, seemingly insurmountable. One morning at work, I made a desperate call to Myrtle explaining that some board directors thought I was negligent in raising critical funds for the agency for which I was executive director. Some wanted me fired. “Jesus will fix it,” she insisted. “Let’s pray.” We did and He did! I had never been one to toot my own horn, but at the next board meeting, I had an opportunity to explain that I had personally been responsible for generating a large percentage of support in both cash and in-kind donations. A naive young woman, I had done my job without reporting it. In response to Myrtle’s prayer, the Lord gave me courage to speak, and He gave me favor with the board.
Another call to Myrtle was even more desperate. I was forty and pregnant! This was a circumstance that couldn’t be fixed or altered by any amount of praying. And yet, in the ensuing months, as I confessed my anguish to my faithful, non-judgmental friend, Myrtle, Jesus answered our prayers by fixing my attitude. When my daughter was born, how proud I was to be her mother. And how proud Myrtle was to be included at Sheridan’s baptism as her great-godmother.
Certainly arrogant pride was not one of Myrtle’s characteristics. “Why would you, a college graduate, ask advice from me?” she sometimes queried. I thought the answer was obvious. Myrtle possessed the God-given wisdom that I needed.
Yet near the end of her life, Myrtle’s wisdom was harder to discover. Her quick mind and quicker wit were overshadowed by the ravages of Alzheimer’s disease, scrambling her language into a kind of verbal Morse-code gibberish. She could no longer talk to others or to Jesus. 
One afternoon, in what was to be our last visit, I pulled her dusty hymnal from the piano bench, asking her daughter-in-law for permission to play for Myrtle. As I played the old familiar hymn, with tears streaming down her cheeks, Myrtle began to sing, “What a friend we have in Jesus…” Although she could no longer talk to Jesus, she was singing to Him just as she had throughout the years. While Myrtle couldn’t tell Him, she knew He was still her best friend.
Several days later, Jesus fixed Myrtle good as new. And now she’ll never stop singing!
 
(Copyright 2012. All Rights Reserved. Lynn D. Morrissey)
 
 

14 thoughts on “Thrilling Guest Thursday: Lynn D. Morrissey

  1. What a beautiful story of a courageous wise hearted woman. God surely has blessed you to bring someone like her into your life. It brought tears to my eyes as I read…and exhorted me to live my faith as Myrtle did and I am sure you do too. Good post

  2. Lynn, your heart for this woman shines in every word. And hers for the Lord. I was particularly moved at the end because my own mom had a dementia that reduced her speech to gibberish. In the end, she could not initiate much conversation, but if we asked her if she loved the Lord, she would say emphatically, YES! And occasionally she would look at us and say with tenderness, "I love you." And music always reached her… right to the end. She'd sit up and sing along with musicals she'd always loved if they were on TV. I think Myrtle communicated her love to Him…even without words. Thanks, Lynn, for this portrait of a woman you loved.

  3. Lynn, thank you for sharing such a personal "love" story about Myrtle–your sister-in-Christ, best friend, and a true Saint. As I read about Myrtle, I could only think of one thing–Jesus with skin on. How lucky you were to have this precious older wise saint in your life. It makes me kind of sad that our youth of today don't see this same opportunity they could also have with the older generation in the church. Thanks again for sharing.

  4. I had just posted and it didn't "take," so I hope this will not be duplicative!BETTY, thank you so much for your kind words about Myrtle. That you had tears, tells me a lot about you and your tenderness of heart. I am so glad that Myrtle's story blessed you today! Oh that she could still influence someone would give her such great joy (but because of her humility, she would probably have difficulty believing it. 🙂 You are a special lady. Thank you.PAM, I was so very touched to know that you have lost your mom and in such a difficult way. I'm so sorry. My mother is my best friend (besides my husband and daughter) and I can't imagine losing her. I'm so glad that you could still experience her tenderness towards you, and her "I love you"–especially in the ravages of dimentia–must have been the best gift you've received. How wonderful that you were able to share these precious moments w/ her in the end. Thank you for your kind words.KATHY, I am so very grateful for your kinds words. Than kyou so much. Oh truly, the Lord used Myrtle in such a powerful way…….she loved Him so much. But through her humility she would never have thought of herself in this way–making such a difference for Him! Ah, would that youth would gravitate to older people! I think that the Church could do much in this area of coupling youth with seniors. What beautiful relationships would be developed.AND KEL, thank you beyond words to be given the opportunity to share the legacy of Myrtle with a wider "audience." I have never had that opportunity. God bless you for sharing your light and your "platform!" Love, Lynni

  5. This is so moving, Lynn.Thank you for giving us the link to this post.How I long to have someone like Myrtle whom I can call about anything at all.I could personally picture the person that she was in your tribute. Such an amazing lady who deserves this beautifully written ode.And the autumn colors shines in your words as well as the music which I could imagine ever so clearly.Beautiful, Lynn….. just so beautiful (just like our BFF in Jesus).

  6. Oh that is it, Lolita!!! Jesus is our BBF! Praise Him! It is hard to imagine that we could have a friend as faithful and true as He. And it is wonderful that He gives us precious friends on earth, like Myrtle was to me.She died in 1997…so long ago. But she will always be near to my heart. And yes, I could call her about *anything!* I am so glad that Kel gave me this "platform" to share about Myrtle. I have never found a home for this essay. Thank you for sharing in this tribute of such a beautiful lady. You are one yourself, and I know you are a loving friend to many, sharing the love of Christ!

  7. Lynn's portrayal uncovered a precious and sweet friendship in process. An example of how God works through His own to aughment His love throughout. And indicating there are no barriers in the differences of color or race with God in the midst.It is ever a privilege reading literature of Lynn's.

  8. Joan, I am so grateful and humbled by your eloquent comments. Thank you! And I love that you noticed that in Christ, there are NO color barriers. This is one of the greatest truths that Myrtle taught me! Thank you so much for noticing what we never noticed when we were together…….we were one in Christ, black and white, just one. The difference, of course, was that Myrtle was so much more humble and mature than I. Oh, that I can grow up to be like her someday! THank you, Joanie.

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