Writing Hand of Mercy was a 5-year journey, culminating in its release in 2015. I was inspired along the way to write and include “A Deeper Reflection” at the end of each chapter, its questions and answers the basis of the Bible Study. Readers of this amazing, true story about former atheist Joseph “Joe” Nowicki and his family, as shared by his son, Gene Andrews, will have the opportunity to delve more deeply into what the Bible says about their life experiences and Joe's salvation experience. This extra reflection about the various events that occurred helps us understand how God works in all our lives.
Included in Hand of Mercy is a chapter about my late first husband, Arie Greenleaf, and the struggle his life journey took after his first wife died, and how this impacted our marriage years later. Faith can be hard to hold onto when a loved one dies. Sometimes, we discover “faith” was just a word.
I had the blessed opportunity to lead this study in early 2016. What a delightful, memorable time the ladies in my group and I had together, learning more about our Dear Lord, sharing our hearts, growing in our knowledge and wisdom of the Bible. I have included a picture of this precious group of friends.
Pictured L to R:
Front Row: Karen Locher, Lynn Jones, Ann Wirtz, Beth Gartner
Back Row: Sally Felker, Anne Little, Carolyn Trapp, Leanna Sain (blue shirt)
Carol Patterson, Mary Ruth Nichols
The second meaningful event is my 50th High School Reunion. My dear friend, Mary Bewig Vermillon, and I have known each other since second grade and are taking a road trip to St. Louis from Hendersonville, North Carolina, to attend the reunion. We both live in this lovely, mountain community, a fact we only discovered a few years ago! To say we are excited about this trip is an understatement.
As the weekend approaches, I have been communicating with friends I’ve known for more than a half century, yikes, each of us thrilled with anticipation at being together again. The maid of honor at my wedding in 1967 just recently "found" me after we had been out of touch for over 30 years. Mentioning names can be risky because someone might be left out, and I am so excited to see everyone I knew at Webster Groves High School, but I do want to express my absolute wonder at seeing Jan Schnieders Pagoulatos, Ginny Burch Reed, Linda Monroe Yust, and Patricia Corrigan. That we are going to see each other is stunning, simply stunning.
While our short visit won’t allow for detailed stories, we can be sure that each life has been a personal journey of joy and sadness, accomplishment and defeat. Life is very predictable that way. Being from Webster Groves and Baby Boomer students of the 1950s and early ’60s, we have been encouraged to have an extra measure of confidence and optimism. We were the children of the Greatest Generation, and our fathers and mothers fought overseas and served on the home front to give us the freedom to be ourselves, with nothing holding us back. In reality we gained our strength to go forward in life from the quiet enjoyment of literature, from the quiet walk or bike ride down a neighborhood street, from the quiet moments of prayer in church. As 1966 high school graduates, our childhood was the calm before the storm of the escalation of the terrible Vietnam War. Society changed dramatically, then, and the value of peaceful, quiet pursuit got lost in the extremes that dominated culture.
Despite the societal intensity that has only increased these past 50 years, truth still prevails.
Isaiah 30:15 eloquently expresses this reality:
“For thus says the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel:
‘In returning and rest you shall be saved;
In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.’ ”
We are preparing to return to the lovely, mid-western community that nurtured our dreams and gave us a foundation to soar. May we reflect, with gratitude, on our good fortune to have lived when and where we did. For the Class of ’66, each life journey has been formed and truly blessed by the unique compassion and energy of our town, Webster Groves.