God loves you, so just keep the faith!

By CLAY MCFERRIN,

It is difficult to translate emotions of the heart to words, and my mind has been reeling these past couple of weeks as I struggled with the idea of writing this column.

Many faithful readers of this newspaper know of the passing of longtime Sun-Sentinel columnist Lucy Mae Boyd, who left us peacefully on the morning of Monday, Aug. 20, destination certain: the Pearly Gates of Heaven!

While I am no one’s judge, I feel confident in saying that about Miss Lucy because I had known her for more than 35 years and my Bible tells me that we will know a tree by the fruit it bears.

I began working here at the newspaper office nearly 36 years ago.  At that time, Lucy was already writing a  weekly column for the newspaper called “Black Perspective.” It was her title of choice.

Lucy was a tiny little woman who had a personality bigger than the size of any room she entered.

Back then, in the early 1980s, she was president of the Tallahatchie County NAACP, a position she held for some 22 years.  I remember one day she walked into the office and took me to task for something I had written.  I don’t recall the particulars, but there we stood: I, a wet-behind-the-ears reporter about 20 years young who still had a lot to learn, and she, a confident, seasoned veteran. In the end, we came to an amicable resolution rooted in mutual respect. Eventually, that developed into a working relationship which ultimately blossomed into a friendship — indeed, a kinship — spanning ensuing decades.

In the late 1980s, Lucy often would come by the office to drop off her typed column and then would visit a little while with my new bride. Week after week, they got to know each other better and Krista discovered that Lucy had a sense of humor, so she would razz her about one thing or another — usually a forgotten roller hidden in Lucy’s hair. Lucy’s wide smile and deep laugh were contagious, and we looked forward to her visits.

In the early ’90s, as employees came and went here at the paper office, the wife and I found ourselves without help at a time when we desperately needed it. Krista was nine months pregnant with our second child, and she and I comprised the entire staff.

Soon after our daughter was born, Krista came back to work but longed to spend a day or two at home with baby Kelsey. Like clockwork, Lucy stopped by on Mondays to drop off her column, and one day Krista asked her if she would mind helping out in the office  so that she could enjoy a couple of days at home with the new baby.  Lucy agreed to be available for spot duty. A few months later, she was hired on a regular part-time basis, and almost 25 years later she continued to work at the newspaper office several days each week.

To say that she was invaluable is an understatement.

Lucy went above and beyond to do whatever she could to help us and make things easier for us.  She even went so far as offering to pick up our son from school on those days when we were swamped and trying to meet press deadlines.

A husband and wife team often have times when they are out of the office together — for days off, medical visits, etc., and there were times when each of us had appointments, interviews and other things that needed Lucy’s presence to hold down the fort.  She was always willing to come — sometimes at a moment’s notice. We would apologize profusely for any inconvenience, but she was always so kind  and understanding. She never complained.

Over the years, people came to depend on Lucy being here. They often stopped in just to say “hi” or to bring her a treat of some kind. Those who knew her well knew that little lady loved to eat. Her appetite reminded me of that of a bird — never eating large amounts, but just kind of pecking all day.  She would delight in anyone who brought her a snack.

Lucy had so much knowledge and wisdom and so willingly imparted it to those who would take the time to listen. Countless people, including myself, sought out her advice.  I always treasured our one-on-one discussions. Her unique perspective and wise counsel, shared humbly and sincerely, helped me to grow both personally and professionally. No doubt, many others can say the same.

Another thing she was not shy about was her love of the Lord.  She was a true witness for Him and did not fail to share that fact with anyone when the opportunity arose.  She was a prayer warrior.  She could often be heard sitting at her desk and praying, or standing at the counter holding the hand of someone who had said, “Pray for me.”  They might not have expected her to hold out her tiny hands and to begin praying at that very moment, but pray she so often did.

If you called her at home, she answered with, “Hello and God bless.”  If the answering machine picked up, you were left with the message, “God loves you, He really does.”

She was an inspiration to so many. We have received notes, messages, etc., over the years telling us how much they have enjoyed her column. She put so much thought and preparation into her column, eventually changing the name of it to “The Christian Chronicle,” after feeling the Lord guiding her to change her focus.

This week there has been a void here at the office, and a quietness, but there has also been an outpouring of love. She was loved by so many, and many of those recognize that Lucy was more to us than just a colleague or a friend; she had become part of our family. When daughter Kelsey gave birth to our first granddaughter, Harper, Lucy quickly let us know that Harper was her grandbaby — referring to her as the “boss baby.”  She  enjoyed the visits with the new baby and she just beamed with pride.

There are no words to truly express how we feel at her leaving, but we are comforted in knowing that she has been faithful to her kingdom work and is now reaping the rewards of her labors. 

Krista was straightening Lucy’s desk late last week and noticed that her study Bible was left open with the first verse on the page being Psalm 122:2, “Our feet shall stand within thy gates, O Jerusalem.” We have no doubt that her feet are planted firmly inside the gates of Heaven.

For years, Lucy ended her column with five words: “Keep the faith. Faith works.”

In recent years, despite increasing challenges to her health and wellbeing, Lucy’s faith in God never wavered for a moment. She continued to inspire others, both in person and through her column.

On the wall by her desk, Lucy had posted many messages of hope and inspiration.

One of those notes stated simply, “Every day of my life I am blessed.”