When Life Gives You LemonsHow Two Little Disciples Showed Love in a Big Way

When Life Gives You Lemons
How Two Little Disciples Showed Love in a Big Way

lemonade stand
Alyce Read, Ellie Quick, Lawson Quick in front of Lemonade Stand for Drake. More than $1,200 was raised for Drake, who was recently diagnosed with acute leukemia. 

By Rev. Corey Tyson Read

Wesley Foundation at Southern Arkansas University

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade! A phrase most of us are familiar with and a motto that has been lived out after a recent college graduate was diagnosed with acute leukemia. Drake Souter, 23 years old and a member of Greers Chapel United Methodist Church in Magnolia, Arkansas, was stunned by the news that he would be facing the greatest challenge of his life, just six months before he is to be married in November 2021.

It wasn’t long after the community heard of Drake’s diagnoses that people started pulling together in support of Drake and his family. Ellie and Lawson Quick, two of the youngest members of Greers Chapel UMC, took the opportunity to set up a lemonade stand in support of Drake. In a Facebook post to help advertise the event, Kathryn Quick said, “Ellie & Lawson have chosen to raise money to give a family very near and dear to our hearts, the Souters. Drake was diagnosed with acute leukemia and we want his family to not have anything to worry about other than getting Drake better so this is just a small way that we felt led to love and support our friends!” 

On two of the hottest days of the summer, Ellie, 4, and Lawson, 3, set up their lemonade stand for a total of four hours to raise money for Drake. On the first day, they raised $200 and by the end of the second day more than 125 people showed up and a total of $1,200 was raised for Drake.

When Drake first heard of the Quick’s plans to set up a lemonade stand, he thought it was super sweet of them to think of him. “I had no idea it would raise that much money,” said Drake. “We have all been so heartfelt by what people have done. We live in the most giving community. It just shows how two little kids can make a difference,” said Kelli Souter, Drake’s mom. 

Drake Souter
Drake Souter, surrounded by cards of love and prayers.

When the Rev. Dan Read, pastor at Greers Chapel UMC, first heard of Ellie and Lawson’s lemonade stand he was, “particularly proud that some of Greers’ youngest members are leading the way” in showing love toward others. They led the congregation and community in an act of generosity for a beloved family of the Magnolia community. What a testament to how two of Greers’ youngest disciples can make a huge difference, of how we can all make a difference in the lives of others. 

As people continued to show up until the last second to grab a cup of refreshing lemonade, we were all amazed at the support of the community. Members of the First United Methodist CDC pre-school class even walked over with dollar bills in hand to give. “Drake’s going to be so rich,” said Ellie. In response to this, Ellie’s mom commented saying, “She’s not wrong, because Drake is rich in love and has so many people praying for him and that makes our hearts glad!”

At the Heart of the Heart

Here’s what I’ve learned and I give thanks to God that I have. The world is filled with so many wonderful surprises, different kinds of people and amazing experiences. Life works far better when you lead with love and let that set the tone of everything else that happens. And you find far more satisfaction when you focus on others than on yourself. Yet my spirit is unsettled. And the reason is that for some reason we seem to keep spending our time and energy on almost everything but the most important thing: Jesus. So let’s make a shift today, and put Jesus – who is the Way, the Truth and the Life, Hope unending and Joy inexplicable – at the heart of the heart of everything. No telling what will happen. Literally!

A Bubble of Grace

In the same way seasons change with the calendar, life changes as you journey through the years. In the same way you have no control over the weather on any particular day, you often have no control over what happens in your life. And in the same way you have to adapt to the weather the way it is and not the way you would like it to be, you have to adapt to what is happening in your life. This can be daunting, even overwhelming. But it is a powerful reminder of something you need to remember, embrace and celebrate. You do not do life alone. Jesus is in front of you, behind you, above you, below you, beside you and in you every moment of every day. So much so, you literally walk through life in a bubble of grace. 

Take the First Step

Knowing who you are – really knowing – and owning it – really owning it – is essential. In fact, it’s a divine imperative because God already knows who you are and fully accepts you just the way you are. However, knowing and owning who you are is not the end of the story, it’s just the beginning. Because once you know who you are and why you are the way you are, God longs for the Holy Spirit to go to work in your life to make you the best unique you that you can be. It’s the transformation that is at the heart of living as Jesus’ disciple. So take the first step today. Accept that God accepts you just the way you are. And then – and only then – figure out what God wants to do next in your life. 

Online or In Person, Our Conference Is Connected

Online or In Person, Our Conference Is Connected

ac2021 unity

By Caleb Hennington

Digital Content Editor

Have you ever been to a hybrid Annual Conference, one that takes place both in-person and online? Do you know of any other Annual Conferences that are having hybrid events? Did you even know such a thing was possible?

Last week, the Arkansas Annual Conference held its annual meeting of business, worship, and fellowship. The June 2-4 meeting was in an entirely new format, one that we have never attempted before, and if we’re being honest, one that we weren’t entirely certain would work.

Although we had successfully completed an entirely virtual Annual Conference experience last year in 2020, adding an in-person layer to the event created a completely new layer of complexity.

But it worked! Our tech crew and backstage staff faced a few hiccups at the beginning, but once all the tech demons were exorcised, the event ran flawlessly, perhaps better than we could have imagined.

People attending in-person at the arena were able to hear and see virtual participants on our big projector screens near the main stage. When the Bishop spoke on his stage microphone, or when someone came to a mic in the crowd, the Zoom participants were able to hear them as well. It was sort of like a TV news station going to a reporter on the scene of an event for a live report.

One of the biggest advantages of pulling off this hybrid event was the sense of connectionalism and fellowship that it brought everyone attending the event. Whether online or in-person, you were able to see and hear people who many of us have been separated from since the start of the pandemic in early 2020.

COVID protocols were still in place for our in-person members, but those who had been fully vaccinated were able to hug their friends and colleagues for the first time in more than a year. For some, this was the first time they had seen many of their fellow United Methodists in person since Annual Conference 2019!

Despite the pandemic continuing to spread through our communities — granted, at a much slower rate than before vaccinations become available — the Arkansas Annual Conference was able to bring some semblance of normalcy back to our people.

I don’t have to tell many of you how important connectionalism plays in our United Methodist heritage. The pandemic not only devastated people’s lives, but it also devastated their connection to their communities.

Technology kept us connected last year, true, but it’s simply not the same as seeing your friends and neighbors in person, being able to hug their necks, squeeze their arms, and see their facial expressions in person when you recall a funny story from the past.

The hybrid experience was difficult, perhaps one of the most difficult things we’ve ever attempted at an Annual Conference, but it was worth the added struggle to be able to offer people that sense of community and connectionalism that they have sorely missed in the last year. I hope that if you attended Annual Conference this year, whether live or online, you felt some of that normalcy return. And let’s continue to pray for COVID to be defeated so we can return to full in-person fellowship at Annual Conference 2022.