Have you ever met a person who immediately becomes one of your favorite people? Maybe you immediately feel loved. Maybe you immediately see kindness, humor, or hospitality. Maybe a caring personality and willingness to serve is evident. Or maybe it's all of these. I met Sally Carpenter in 1984 when she and husband Pat were Sunday School directors for the College and Career department at Concord Baptist Church. Her home was always open, she was available to listen, and I knew right away she was an incredible friend and mother with a servants heart.
Our Christmas and Patriotic music programs at Concord are popular and dynamic, and Sally, in addition to singing in the choir, is behind the scenes directing and decorating. Our music minister, Herman Milner, agrees that Sally is one of a kind.
Sally always brings a professional touch of creativity to our music ministry with her gift of decorating the sanctuary with class for each program. With no outside direction necessary, she has the uncanny ability to envision what can be done to exude an atmosphere of worship through her decorations. While Sally is always open to suggestions and seeks to make certain her decorating is to the satisfaction of the Minister of Music, one of her sterling qualities is her willingness to take ownership of the task, faithfully and quietly going about her work behind the scenes. Although Sally never seems to realize the enormity of her accomplishments exercising her creative gift to our ministry, the rest of us remain in awe of her expressions of creation that enhance our worship.
Sally makes her ministry a family affair. Her husband, Pat, and their two sons, Thad and Trent, have served God at Concord since joining as deacons, teachers, or sound technicians, and have worked on the hostess committee together. They're also work with Sally as she continues to use her gifts on the decorating committee. Knowing Sally as an incredible friend and mother, I knew without a doubt she'd be a terrific mother-in-law, and I was right. Her daughters-in-law, Karmon and Melissa serve with her.
When Karmon was dating Thad, she loved how special family was to Sally.
Sally dedicates her time to her family and to her church. She makes her family feel special and loved. Sally always sends her homemade cookies on youth trips. When I chaperone, I see how she touches lives. I lost my mother when Thad and I had been married four years. She picked up where my mother left off. As a family, we make an annual trip to Cashiers, N.C. to cut our own Christmas tree. While there, we also cut the large Christmas trees used at Concord.
Melissa, Trent's wife, works beside Sally, learning.
I saw how the family worked together and the good times we have had doing it. We all help decorate at Christmas and decorate the 4th of July picnic. She comes up with so many creative ideas to use for decorations, and they always look beautiful. Some of her ideas include the men (Pat, Thad, and Trent) helping her build something to pull it off, like raising the height of a centerpiece to be seen, switch boxes to run Christmas lights on trees, and making sure the flags are displayed at different angles in the baptistery. She teaches me. I may not be able to decorate like her, but I'm serving God through our church in ways I feel the most helpful, like my love for children leading me to teach Sunday school and AWANA.
What so many admire about Sally is her willingness, even when she's busy working, to help anyone, anytime. Melissa, Trent's wife, says that Sally is constantly doing something for the church and other people.
Sally is a very caring person and is always making food for families who've had a death or for people who are sick. I have seen her on so many Sundays fix plates for people who are either sick or don't have anyone else at home with them.
Her granddaughter, Kappy, thinks she is the best cook and makes the best sweet tea. I know this personally. My father died at 2:00AM on Christmas Eve. Christmas Eve afternoon, the Carpenter family showed up at my door with food prepared my Sally, Melissa, and Karmon: homemade vegetable soup, cornbread, breakfast casserole, fruit, and breakfast bread.
If you know Sally, you know she's an incredible grandmother. Andrew, Sam, and Kappy call her Giggy. And when I say they ADORE her, it's an understatement. In addition to cooking a big Sunday lunch every week, she uses her creativity to make every family gathering special. Sally dressed Kappy like a Native American for her first Thanksgiving. Pat even built a cabin behind their house, where they have their Thanksgiving meals.
Giggy continues her mother's tradition of The Golden Egg at Easter, writing clues for the egg hunt. One year, she actually rented metal detectors for her grandchildren and filled plastic eggs with metal. She knows their favorite things and uses them for her scavenger hunts, making the clues unique for each grandchild, like tools for Sam and Andrew. They decorate pumpkins at Giggy's house for Halloween, and she gives them prizes. Andrew and Sam know Giggy will be at their ballgames, and she hangs their artwork in her home.
But Giggy doesn't stop with her own grandchildren. Her home is open to their friends. After a formal dance, Kappy brought many friends to Giggy's for her cooking.
Not only does Giggy make birthdays extra-special by cooking their favorite meals, she calls her children and grandchildren and sings happy birthday. If you ask Andrew about his favorite gift, he'll tell you, "anything from Giggy."
I always look forward to Giggy's birthday gifts. She knows what I like. She gives the best presents.
She shows them how to serve God by doing for others. Kappy has always seen this in her Giggy.
Everything she does is for someone else. My favorite thing about her is the way she loves other people. She would go to the end of the earth for me and my family.
She cares for everyone. She is always willing to help people. She does kind things for others like visiting the nursing home.
How do you serve God for decades and not expect spotlight attention or praise?
Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord, not for man. Colossians 3:23
Kappy shared that her Giggy has a heart for the Lord no matter what she does.
She is full of wisdom and knows what to say.
Sam and Andrew know their Giggy will always encourage them
She will never let you down.
Sally shows her love for God with her talents, but above that talent, she genuinely cares for people. Her family will tell you that Sally tries to do the right thing and teach them to do the same, to do what God wants them to do in situations.
When you serve because of your love for God, people know it. They see that you genuinely care. You may not be in the spotlight, but it doesn't matter. Family, church, friends and God see it. That's the beauty of serving Him. That's the beauty of Sally, Giggy. Sam summed it up, "And the most important thing is she is a great person and has a great personality." Sally IS a great person, and a wonderful Giggy. Her great personality reflects Christ, and He shows up in her talent, hospitality, kindness, and willingness to serve without attention.
Your friends, family, and church appreciate you, Sally, Giggy!