#Gifts January 9

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Each year the blog takes on a different focus. In 2019 the goal is for each post to bring you the reader a lesson, quote, message, or story that can help you grow.


Gifts often come wrapped and it is not until you open them do you really know what is inside.

Based on the occasion a birthday, anniversary, wedding, or Christmas you often have a clue on the gift you are about to receive. Then there are those magical moments when you open a present and you become overwhelmed with joy on what you just received.

On Monday January 7, 2019 I along with hundreds of others filled a church to capacity to attend the funeral service of Dr. James Benford (Ben) Hardin

I had known Dr. Hardin because of his support to UNC Pembroke and through his children especially his son Adam Hardin and oldest daughter Alicia Mansfield. His youngest daughter Ashlee had been a childhood friend of my daughter Becca.

The service was held at Chestnut Street United Methodist Church in Lumberton NC. We all received some wonderful gifts that evening.

dr ben

People may not think of receiving a gift and attending a funeral in the same context but my experience it occurs. When it does it is special. People that have lived a rich life and have impacted others often have their funerals provide us the gift of inspiration.

For most of us we come into the world crying and everyone around us is smiling. For a select few when they leave this world we all are crying because they are gone but they are smiling because they know where they are going. Ben Hardin lived a great and purposeful life and now he moves on to eternal glory with God.

His funeral was a gift because it celebrated the many ways he served and loved others. You could look amongst the church pews and see diversity by any number of defintions. Attending were people of different races, careers, ages, and faiths brought together by how Dr. Hardin had impacted their lives especially with his smile.

As I looked around I saw his patients, friends, family, community leaders, medical colleagues, and hunting buddies. Each of the speakers; Dr. Joe Roberts, Keith Taylor, Ertle Knox Chavis, Barbara Braveboy-Locklear, and Rev. Herbert Lowry Jr. while at the pulpit referenced his sense of humor, laugh, and of course his smile.

I was hoping that the gift of inspiration would be served up at the service by those making remarks about Ben Hardin’s life and each exceeded my expectations.  What I wasn’t prepared for was the gift and beauty of the music on Monday night.

The Saddletree Church of God Choir performed at Dr. Hardin’s service and it was an unexpected gift on many fronts. The songs they sang included “This Blood” and “Total Praise”.  This was a large group and they shared their talents with all of us on Monday.

Other music included Dr. Hardin’s three grandchildren Emma, Hunter, and Lydia singing “Grandpa” accompanied on guitar by Dr. Hardin’s son-in-law Carlton Mansfield. There also was The Allen Family singing “One of These Mornings”

Found a YouTube Video of the Saddletree Church of God Choir that I uploaded below

Thanks for the gift Dr. Hardin I was surprised and pleased -you made me smile.


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