Monday, March 26, 2012

Our Tribute to Carole Lawrence

Given March 26, 2012 at the memorial service for Carole Lawrence. 

Carole had a way of making each of us feel like we were special to her, didn’t she? And we were.

I had the privilege of meeting Carole through Peggy Abbott and have been in a small group with Carole, Peggy and Barb De Bruyn. For the past 4 years the four of us would meet almost weekly. We would visit each other’s homes or meet at the lake to discuss books, do a Bible study, attempt a craft, or we’d make a road trip – often to new places suggested by Carole. She was always full of ideas for activities to do, crafts to try or places to visit. Many times we’d go for lunch or just for coffee. I think we’ve tried almost every Starbucks, Second Cup and Good Earth across south Calgary.

Carole hosted us at her cabin in Gull Lake one weekend while we attended a Beth Moore seminar in Red Deer. When we drove out to Gull Lake, Barb and Carole led the way in one vehicle and I followed behind with our friend Pam S. Peggy came later. Well, you all know how much Carole loves to visit. Well, Carole and Barb, the two teachers, were so engaged in conversation that they completely blew past the exit and it was another ten kilometers before Pam and I could get their attention to ask if we had perhaps gone too far.

That weekend the laughter, antics, quiet times, tears, of sharing over meals and relaxing in the sunshine solidly bonded our little group. Other dear women joined us from time to time, and each one was a blessing, but today, this tribute is the combined memories of Peggy Abbott, Barb De Bruyn and I.

Carole was a life-long learner

She may have been retired, but you all know she had a zest for life and was always trying new things. She had recently started exercising with Barry and Jennifer at the Jewish Centre. In January, Carole decided to learn machine quilting. It was difficult, but she persevered and did it. She faithfully attended Tuesday morning Bible studies and often would take other courses like Precepts.

Carole was a journaler

She journaled her thoughts, her prayers, her notes from Bible Study. She even gave me some wonderful tips, along with her friend Carla Lorfing, when I was preparing a workshop on journaling. Scott, you will have a rich history of your Mom's life through her journals and your kids can remember her this way.

Carole was an insatiable reader

She belonged to several book clubs. She would share books with others as she felt God leading her to do. Sometimes she’d try to get me to read a novel and I’d tell her “Sorry, Carole, I just don’t read fiction.” She’d laugh and say “I know you say that, but this one you really ought to read.”

Carole was an artist

Carole created beauty through her quilts and knitting. She won an award last year for one of her quilts. She belonged to several guilds and did Bible Blocks and Block of the Month. She freely shared her joy and love of quilting. Carole also took time to show Barb De Bruyn how to do specific things. Barb said Carole was so patient. She also took Barb to quilt shows and introduced her to all her quilting friends.

Carole said she would one day get Peggy to quilt. Over Peggy’s protests, Carole’s persistence won out when Peggy gave in and made quilted Christmas stockings with Carole’s help.

Carole regularly showed up at the Stitchin’ Post on Wednesday nights. Sometimes she would be knitting a project and would have a problem. Well, she would save it for Peggy to fix. Peggy would say "You know how to fix it" and Carole would smile with that twinkle in her eye, and say, "Well, you're here, you can do it faster".

Carole loved her computer. She was a Mac. 

It was life changing for her and she blamed Peggy for getting her started, but it became another way for her to connect to the world and people. She would post articles, and websites and watch favorite shows online. And of course, most of all, she loved reconnecting with friends and former students. She asked me to come hook up her printer and switch ink cartridges once or twice. I'm not sure that she needed my help as much as she wanted me to feel needed.

Carole was a mentor

She cared so deeply for the women in her Tuesday morning group. She was a great listener, and often that was all she did.

Isn't it what we all long for? Someone to really hear us?

She loved their stories and felt deeply for their issues. She would often organize something to help out and she prayed for them faithfully. The number of young moms who have felt Carole’s love and received her wisdom through the years has grown to a very long list. Anita and Heather, she was very grateful for your caring leadership.

In our little group we trusted Carole to be honest with us and she delivered in the way only a dear loved one could. When one of us was going through a tough spot, we could always call on her. She would listen carefully, comfort and advise us. She had wisdom about marriage and would gently tell us when we needed to change our behavior toward our husbands. She was usually right.

Carole was a burden-bearer

Barry and Jennifer Pendergast shared that Carole was there at the beginning of their walk, helping them while they grieved the loss of their son Simon. This was the beginning of a long and rich friendship between them.

Carole was fiercely independent and self-reliant, trusting in the love of her Savior. These qualities served her wonderfully, being a single parent, following her career. Although she was always there to help others, she seldom shared her own difficulties and she never complained. In our little group of four, we would ask Carole for prayer requests, Carole would always speak of someone else’s need. When I would ask her for personal needs so that we could pray for her specifically, she would usually reply with “I’m good” or “I’m fine.” I think when she became a believer; Jesus became that one person she would share everything with.

Carole was a prayer warrior

She started every day in her quiet time with God and then journaling. This was the time she prayed for all of us. If you’re here today, it’s probably because she listened to you and prayed for you.

Carole was an activities director

Besides all her regular hobbies, Carole was always thinking up things to do as a group. Our most precious memories are from summers at the lake. Here, we had book discussions over the years, visiting with friends, henna tattoos, precious lovely times that we will never forget. Carole sitting amongst us, in a chair, with her knitting, laughing patiently, because Peggy and I were always late.

She got our group to do crafts like glass fusing and jewelry making. She loved road trips. She was the first one to take us to the Saskatoon Farm. Last summer when our little group decided not to do a book discussion. Carole, always the teacher, challenged us to do a little "assignment" each week, based on something she found on the internet.

In December we celebrated our birthdays together, hosted by Carole. She came up with the idea of making quilted Christmas ornaments, so we agreed. A few days later we met. Carole had cut out hundreds of 1 inch fabric squares for the craft and we bonded as we glued.

Carole had the gift of hospitality

Besides planning activities, Carole had the gift of making others feel at home whether it was in her own home or in this church that she loved. For many years, in the old building, back when the women’s group was called Hands to Heart, Carole would make centerpieces for the tables and spend hours every week ironing tablecloths. Her view was that when the women arrived, she just wanted them to feel comfortable. She helped us all feel like we belong and we are loved and that we matter.

Her home was the same. It was beautifully decorated and such a cozy place to visit. The furniture and walls covered with Carole’s beautiful quilts and handcrafts. It was a sanctuary as beautiful as Carole herself.

Carole was generous with her time and resources

Carol loved making things for people. Peggy remembers fondly in the old church how Carole would help with the café and would join her for cooking, Wednesday afternoons with Gerry Hand.

Carole was very involved on the planning committee for “So Long Insecurity”. We thought 300 people would come and she conceived the idea of making fabric gift bags with ribbon handles for every attendee. She designed the bag and obtained donations of fabric from her friends, her quilt store and her own stash. She recruited Alice Carter’s It’s Sew Easy group and other friends (including Barb) to make hundreds of bags. When the attendance at the seminar swelled to 1,000, Carole personally sewed the remaining bags required and refused to accept any reimbursement for her expenses. She just wanted the women to feel loved when they walked in the door and a simple gift bag was her way of making that happen.

Carole was a woman of faith

Carole loved the Lord and trusted him with all her heart. She had no doubts that his strength was enough for her. She loved studying his word and discussing it with all her friends. Carole was passionate about men being godly leaders. She would often surprise us saying she had planned a meeting with this pastor or that male leader, as she had something on her heart to discuss with them. They never intimidated her, but then she had a non-threatening way of saying things that would open doors for discussion. When Pastor Scott came, she would say: “I’m gonna go love on him.” and she would proceed to go give him some encouraging word.

Perhaps it was the teacher in her. She had such a heart for boys and men, as she felt the world was a very difficult place for them to be Christians. She had a special place in her heart for Peggy’s sons Jordan, Simon and Tristan, and prayed especially for them.

Scott, Peggy also wanted me to share that your mom was so, so happy, when you became a believer, so you could lead your family in God's path.

Carole was a friend

Peggy and I both felt that she was in so many ways the older, wiser, sister we never had. And perhaps we were the younger, sillier sisters she never had. We would tease her and she would wave her hand at us and say, “Oh, you, sillies!”

Carole encouraged her friends in what they loved. In September, I called her on the spur of the moment and she immediately agreed to ride along on a trek to photograph the autumn colours. She brought her camera but she wasn’t really there to take pictures. She came along so we could spend time together. She added to the beauty by her presence.

I will close with a well-known passage of scripture about a godly woman. Until yesterday, I thought this description was perhaps an impossible standard. As you hear it now, I think you’ll agree it describes our friend, Carole.

from Proverbs 31:10-31 (The Message, paraphrased)

A good woman is hard to find,
   and worth far more than diamonds.
Her (family and friends) trust her without reserve,
   and never have reason to regret it.
Never spiteful, she treats them generously
   all her life long.
She shops around for the best yarns and cottons,
   and enjoys knitting and sewing.
She's like a trading ship that sails to faraway places
   and brings back exotic surprises.
She's up before dawn,
   organizing her day.
First thing in the morning, she dresses for work,
   rolls up her sleeves, eager to get started.
She senses the worth of her work,
   is in no hurry to call it quits for the day.
She's skilled in the crafts of home and hearth,
   diligent in homemaking.
   and dresses in colorful linens and silks.
She's quick to assist anyone in need,
   reaches out to help the poor.
Her clothes are well-made and elegant,
   and she always faces tomorrow with a smile.
When she speaks she has something worthwhile to say,
   and she always says it kindly.
She keeps an eye on everyone in her household,
   and keeps them all busy and productive.
Her children respect and bless her;
   her friends join in with words of praise:
"Many women have done wonderful things,
   but you've outclassed them all!"
Charm can mislead and beauty soon fades.
   The woman to be admired and praised
   is the woman who loves God.
Give her everything she deserves!
   Festoon her life (and her memory) with praises!


  1. Thank-you for sharing this tribute to Carole. She was a wonderful person who was fun to be around. I met Carole in life group and often we would seek each other out and sit together at the Glenmore Trail building. It was a pleasure to know her and to be in her presence. Carole and Peggy were my number one team when it was time to make cabbage rolls. Carole you are missed. Gerry .. Not sure how the blog thing works.

    1. Thanks, Gerry. I appreciate your reply. I appreciate the memories from before I got to know her. She always served willingly. You handled the blog thing just fine. :-)

  2. Thank you Joyce for describing Carole from our hearts. Beautiful words, a blessed heritage. She was the glue that bonded hearts together.