When we went to Pembroke Christian Church to serve in 1993, Thelma had been playing the piano and organ for 50 years. On Sundays she played organ and Glenda, who Miss Thelma had recruited in the 1960s played piano. They were the dynamic duo! Terry took to going to Miss Thelma’s apartment in the Christian Care Communities on Thursday, where they would plan the music for Sunday and also entertain the residents at the nursing facility on campus.

Occasionally, Terry would accompany her to the grocery store. On these short treks, Miss Thelma gathered up her belongings, including two purses. The first time this happened, Terry did not comment, but the next time he asked, “Why do you carry two purses, Thelma?” She blinked, startled that he would ask such a “stupid” question and then stated, “The pretty one is my decoy!”

Miss Thelma’s theory, which was never proven, was that if one carried two purses, one battered a bit and one in good shape, a thief would be more likely to steal the good looking one. She carried her wallet, money, etc. in the shabbier of the two.

Miss Thelma’s theory counted on the way the world evaluates value. Externals tell all. The bright, shiny, new things attract. Beauty is defined by media. Worth is defined by bank accounts, property, athletic ability, scholarship, personality.

But like, Miss Thelma’s decoy purse, if there is nothing inside of value, all you get is an empty bag.

We can clean up really good on the outside, but if our core is empty then we are like the “decoy purse”.

When we accept Jesus as our Savior and Lord, the Holy Spirit comes to reside within us, reshapes our core gradually as we allow him access until we are the image of Christ within.

Miss Thelma has gone on to be with The Lord but her legacy at Pembroke Christian Church lives on.

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t look at how handsome Eliab is or how tall he is, because I have not chosen him. God does not see the same way people see. People look at the outside of a person, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7 NCV)