This afternoon, we will gather to remember, celebrate, and thank God for the precious life of Melinda Yeary. I met Melinda in the fall of 1970, while a student at Texas Tech. She was one of the teachers in the college department at First Baptist Church and the wife of the University Minister. Melinda taught A Bible Study class, visited with students, helped with the college activities, and shared the love of Jesus wherever she went. Her smile, love of life, enthusiasm, encouragement, and sweet spirit endeared her to us all. She was a true helpmate to Dan. Little did I realize how much God would bless me with the gift of having Melinda as a friend and mentor through these years.
During college days, I sometimes babysat for the Yeary’s children, Wes and Missy. When I would arrive, Melinda would have a detailed list to follow so the kids could keep on schedule. Their meal and snacks were ready, as well as anything else they would need for the evening. Her organization helped things run smoothly. In January of my sophomore year, Doak was born. That added a new dimension of fun and excitement. After they moved to Houston, where Dan was the Singles Minister at South Main Baptist Houston, I would still babysit from time to time when I was home. Melinda loved and cared for her family well.
After a few years in Houston, Dan accepted the call to pastor University Baptist Church in Coral Gables, Florida. The church later called Larry to be their Minister to Youth. During that season, I continued to observe Melinda as mother, pastor’s wife, and bringer of hope and joy to all she encountered. Melinda had a servant’s heart. She readily shared meals, visited with people, taught, helped with needs, all while juggling the schedules of 3 busy kids. Her joy and enthusiasm were contagious and she was always on the go. She was full of grace and kind. Since we lived so far from our families, we often shared holidays, birthdays, and other times with the Yeary family.
Larry, Scott, and I moved to Houston in December of 1978. Thus began the weekly Saturday calls. Larry always teased (maybe it was the truth) that the phone calls were cheaper than therapy. If the boys wanted some unsupervised time they would say, “Have you talked to Melinda lately?” Those were treasured times of laughter, sharing, catching up, learning, and growing. While Melinda was in the hospital last week, Missy put the phone on speaker so I could have another chance to let Melinda know that I loved her and was praying for her.
In May of 2001, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Because of Melinda, I wasn’t devastated when I was given the news. Once again, Melinda had paved the way as she had already lived with MS for 20 plus years. Even when activities became more difficult or she had to cut back, she didn’t complain or lose hope. She prayed, encouraged others, took time to listen, willingly did what she could, never gave up, and truly gave thanks in all circumstances. Melinda’s ways of serving and ministering to others changed through the years, but her sweet spirit and faith in God were steadfast.
This past Saturday, Larry and I went to Waco to visit with Melinda. I was given the gift of being able to tell her one more time the ways God had used her to teach, mentor, befriend, and bless me through the years. Thank you, Lord, for perfect timing, along with the reminder to take every opportunity to express love and gratitude every chance we are given so there are no regrets.
These final years and days Melinda has continued to model an uncomplaining spirit, a joyful attitude, a trusting faith, and a loving heart. Even though she was weak physically, she continued to draw her strength from the Lord. She fought to live and finish strong until her final breath. It’s been said that when you are squeezed, you spill out what’s inside. Melinda overflowed with Jesus. Lord, I want to be like that, too.
A friend loves at all times.
I beg you—I, a prisoner here in jail for serving the Lord—to live and act in a way worthy of those who have been chosen for such wonderful blessings as these. Be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Try always to be led along together by the Holy Spirit and so be at peace with one another.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
I Corinthians 13:4-7
Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
I John 4:11