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It was 1962, I was the little nine year-old who moved into the house behind Bob and Mildred Farrell. I was an only child who had moved for the first time from her home in Lakeland to Sebring, leaving grandparents and cousins behind. Bob and Mildred would provide the security and stability which I needed—they indeed left their handprints on my heart.
Bob and Mildred never had children, and they had retired and moved to Sebring from Ohio after Bob had been paralyzed from the waist down in an automobile accident. They seemed delighted with me, the inquisitive, curious little girl who started a conversation with Mildred while she watered her periwinkles by the chain-link fence that separated our backyards. I had never seen periwinkles before and Mildred had bunches and bunches of them growing along her fence.
I became a regular at Bob and Mildred’s, after school, and on weekends. They always welcomed me and seemed excited to see me. We would sit and talk, or just sit, without having to say or do anything for hours. The most fascinating thing I remember from Bob and Mildred’s home I saw on my first visit to their house—it was what appeared to be a photo, with a title below it which read, Jesus Christ in the Snow Patterns.
Mildred took the framed photo off the wall and read me the story printed on the back…“This photograph was taken by a Chinese photographer who was riding home one day through the snow. According to the story, his soul was deeply troubled. He felt strangely compelled to take a photograph of the melting snow forming pools of water and revealing here and there the black earth. Curious to know the outcome of the incident, he developed the film at once upon returning to his home. Out from the black and white areas of the snow scene, a face appeared, full of tenderness and love–the face of Jesus Christ. He became a Christian as a result of the experience.”
Bob and Mildred were believers, Jesus Christ was their Savior and their Lord. They loved Him, and they knew He loved them, even though they had been to several faith healing services and were told “they didn’t have enough faith” for Bob to be healed of his paralysis. This photo hanging in their living room served as a constant reminder to them of the presence of Jesus Christ in their lives, even in the perplexities and turmoil of life, we suddenly become conscious of His Presence.
Bob and Mildred had a powerful influence on my life. They were always so glad to see me, smiled, hugged me, and seemed to just enjoy my presence. I didn’t have to perform, or be something I was not. They just enjoyed my company. They taught me that “just being” with friends was enough. They taught me to appreciate little things, like periwinkles growing along a chain-link fence.
Now, every time I see wildflower periwinkles growing in unexpected places, I smile, and remember Bob and Mildred, the photo of Jesus Christ in the snow patterns, and I am encouraged.
Take a few minutes to enjoy Twila Paris’ rendition of How Beautiful…
“How beautiful are those who bring the good news!”—Romans 10:15
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