Her name is Denise Hewitt. For many years she was a member of my Adult choir in Tyler. She had a handful of little kids, that were, literally, a handful. It was a real effort for Denise to make choir rehearsals and church. Often at choir socials, she would share her Erma Bombeck-style stories about her children and her parenting. What her boys did with the washer and dryer should become a made-for-TV movie!
Denise had every right not to be active in the church. Her husband’s job kept him away a lot. She had to deal with four kids on her own. It would have been very easy many Sunday mornings to just collapse into the easy chair and say “It’s just not worth it”.
It never happened. Not only did Denise make it most Sundays and Wednesdays, she soon took on leading the Cherub Choir. All of her children were in that choir along with about a dozen just like them. I often observed that she had the toughest choir. Still she did more. She sang solos. She laughed about herself and her kids. And Denise kept coming.
A few years ago her husband’s job moved them to, of all places, Guam. No Disciple churches there. Not a children’s choir on the entire island. Denise went to work. She found a community church and helped them resurrect the adult choir. Soon she was reaching out to all the kids, first at church, then at school, and then house-to-house.
A children’s choir was born.
Denise sent me programs and letters. Each one contained laughter and frustration, hope and excitement. I could hear her voice and determination in every line. Can’t doesn’t exist in Denise Hewitt’s vocabulary. She reinforces for me how we are to use our gifts to follow the opportunities God gives.
Some days I hear an amazing number of “why-I wasn’t there” stories. Some days I hear negative, “why we can’t do something” stories. Some valid. Others not. I don’t know how to get the message out that the preacher is not the principal.
You don’t need a pass from me about where you were and what you do when you are not at church. That relationship and accountability lies in a higher place.
But I like to remember my friend, Denise. Can’t never came up in her vocabulary. Negative thinking never appeared in her actions. Impossible was never considered. “Couldn’t make it” was never offered.
I lost touch with Denise for a while…and then just a little while ago I heard from her. She is back in the states, divorced and finishing a degree in vocal music! Children all grown, Denise told me she wanted to do more for music, fine arts and her church!
If a copy of this finds its way to you, Denise, I want you to know the kingdom is better because of you. I am stronger because of you.
We are a witness to what God can and will do. We are all called to stand up to the “can’t” and the “I won’t be there” voices, and move forward…
(Original content written February 2010)