I have known of Janis my entire life. Some places have a town troubadour but in Ocilla, we have a town clown! (Yes, a real, live, been-to-school-for-it clown.) Clancey the Clown, that is, the Mayor of Smileville in the state of O’silly that left a trail of donut seeds and laughter wherever she went.
Last Friday I was reminded of how blessed I truly am to live in a place where I am loved and supported by so many. I reflected on my last 12 years in Ocilla and all the wonderful people I have had the opportunity to build relationships with, all the sweet people that have ministered to me in my times of struggle and all the folks that I have been able to minister to through my business. I know I have mentioned before that my husband and I consider Ocilla our mission field. We are on a mission to help better our community, to love and support those who need us and to spread the love of Christ through the streets of this little town.
That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
(2 Corinthians 12:10)
“Difficulty is hard. It's the bully that steps into your path and tries to arm wrestle you to the ground until you cry uncle. And no matter what you're trying to do, especially if it's worthwhile, difficulty will try to outshout both God and your own thoughts to confuse you. It tries to look so large that you can only see what's right in front of you – the problems, the obstacles and the walls. But we can't let difficulty keep us from daring to go where God wants us to go. God will make a way, and He wants to show it to you today. Seek Him!”
It is shameful that it took the death of a very good friend to shake me out of my funk! It is time to move on and continue embracing this small town that I do love so much. One of Janis’ best friends, whom I am also blessed to call friend, stopped during the eulogy she was giving to say through tears, “aren’t we all so lucky to live here and to have each other?” Yes we are! Janis loved this town with every bone in her body (especially her funny bone)! If you are not from Ocilla, and you are wondering why I chose to share all this on the blog today, then let me just tell you. This is a representation of small town southern living at its best. These are the times that we band together, in times of grief and struggle to comfort each other and help each other. Not only will the church ladies drown you in casseroles and hams when you have lost a loved one, but you will be prayed for in times of illness or hardship. You will be offered a ride if you are walking somewhere, folks will ask you how you are doing and usually they mean it. If you need your grass mowed or something heavy moved, there is always someone you can call on to help you.
As our community grieves the loss of Janis, it seems an almost impossible feat to “delight in weakness” but let’s remember that when we are weak, we are strong! I love you Janis Roberts, every bone in your body, especially your funny bone! Thank you for loving me.