Live well, love much, pray often

Published on Wednesday, 26 February 2014 22:49 - Written by Christine Gardner food@tylerpaper.com

 In May 2011, I was getting ready to write my first food section for the Tyler Morning Telegraph. I knew it needed to focus on Mother’s Day, but  I was nervous about who or what it should feature.

I wanted the subject to stand out and showcase the food section in a grand way. Then I realized the best idea was right around the corner.

In one of the beautiful cottage homes on Chilton lives the most wonderful woman with the biggest heart for people and God that I have ever met. Mary Lynn Thompson possesses a selfless compassion and sweet spirit that can be felt anytime she walks into a room. She’s not just a mother, grandmother and great grandmother to her own children, but a second mother and leader to many in the community.

She became an honorary member of my family almost 13 years ago and above anyone else is a woman I am incredibly grateful to call friend. She has been there for me through good times, tough times and all those times when having tea with a friend was what made an ordinary day something special.

There are many in Tyler who can express similar sentiments and have a deep understanding of the impact she’s had in many lives. Her qualities shine through her smile, words and gentle ways before you even learn her name.

Unfortunately, Tyler will be losing this amazing woman after next week because Mrs. Thompson is moving to Colorado to be closer to her family. Many will miss her, but the impact she’s had on people here will be felt for many years to come.

She lived in Tyler in for 30 years, and arrived not long after her husband passed. During her time here she was a respected leader of a non-denominational women’s bible study group called Bible Study Fellowship and spent many years as the leader of a Boomers class at Green Acres Baptist Church.

Many have shared that a unique aspect of Mrs. Thompson’s Sunday school class is that this was not a women’s class, it was couples, and the men listened to her wise words and lessons just as intently as the women.

I met Mrs. Thompson in 2002 when I was living in Houston. My parents were members of her class, and I always enjoyed visiting when I was in Tyler for the weekend.

She had grown up in Houston and then moved to Colorado after she married. I didn’t know then, but a move to Colorado was also in my future, and having her as a friend helped me prepare for that experience.

I learned quickly it was not a place I enjoyed living, and her encouraging cards and letters got me through five long, snowy winters before moving back to Texas.

Another thing we had in common was a love for cooking. Many afternoons were spent sitting in her kitchen reading through cookbooks and recipe cards over a cup of tea.

In the Mother’s Day food section, her coconut cake was not just her children’s favorite, but a big hit with readers. She loves telling stories about food, trying new recipes and, most importantly, the fellowship shared at the table.

Last week I visited her beautiful home one last time. All the teapots, antiques and cookbooks were already packed in boxes, but that’s not what I was there to see. I wanted to be around her wonderful spirit, see her amazing smile, listen to her wise words and absorb that feeling of home and security that she offers to many.

In Colorado or Tyler, wherever she goes Mrs. Thompson will continue to touch people’s lives, share her love for God and The Bible and encourage everyone she meets to live well, love much and pray often.

Now it is my responsibility, and those she has touched, to emulate her spirit, be joyful, spread love and make a similar impact on others.

When word got out that I was working on this story, members of her class emailed things they wanted to share about Mrs. Thompson. Others sent Bible verses that remind them of her wisdom and lessons.

The verses include Proverbs 3: 5-6, 2 Timothy 4:7-8, Proverbs 31:26, 1 Peter 4:7-11, Hebrews 12:2, Philippians 1:4

“Mary Lynn has taught me, during the many years we have been friends, to totally trust the Lord in every situation.”

- Harriet Renner

 “Instead of Mother Teresa, I think of her as Mother Mary Lynn, she has a direct line to the Lord!”

Ronnie Morris