Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

May 29, 2005


Perhaps we should all learn to do some things only for love


      I persuaded my wife to let me share with you an article she wrote last week. She wrote it only for the women in her sewing group at our church, but I felt it deserved a larger audience. I hope you agree with me. I hope it stirs you as it did me.



A ministry of giving

By Dean Albritton

          Almost fifty years ago I was given a new understanding about giving. Through observing and listening to a friend, I learned that you can give to others without receiving monetary returns for your labor.

        In the winter of 1957 I was waiting for the birth of our second son in Midway, Alabama.  The kind people of that community were so concerned for my welfare that they made certain that I was not alone at any time.  Walter was finishing his Theology Degree at Candler School of Theology in Atlanta.  Traveling back to Midway on weekends became too much for me, so I stayed in Midway. 

        The person who planted in my heart the great idea of giving “only for love” was Cephelia Stewart.  She was a single lady in her seventies who had spent her life serving as a nurse.  After retiring she came to Midway to live with her cousins.  She was free to come to my home to spend many nights so I wouldn’t be alone.

        As we sat night after night together, Cephelia brought out her basket of sewing to work on sewing projects.  I watched her busy fingers sewing aprons for friends and family.  When I asked her if she ever sold them, she said, “I do it only for love.”  As an early Christmas present to me she gave me one of her handmade aprons.  I knew the hours that it had taken to sew this beautiful apron.   This gift had a deep meaning for me.

        I started asking myself, “What can I do for others only for love?”  Many small ideas came to me, but nothing I could do continuously as a ministry.

        When I moved to Mobile in 1972, I thought I had found my gift.  While I lived there I worked as a housemother for the Mobile Infirmary School of Nursing.  The job was important to me because it provided much needed money for our family.  With four growing boys, we always needed extra money.  I would work at the infirmary for three days and then I would have three days off.

At night the girls would come down to the lobby and sit with me before going to bed.  Some of the girls brought their crocheting.  They asked if I crocheted and I told them I had never learned.  They couldn’t stand it that I didn’t know how to crochet even a granny square. They insisted that I learn.  It was a great night when I made my first granny square. 

The girls come in one night with enough thread for me to make my first afghan.  These sessions became times of sharing for me and the girls.  We crocheted together and I listened to their dreams about the future.

        Crocheting brought me so much pleasure that I just had to teach my seventy-five year old mother how to crochet.  During my off time, mother and I would crochet.  Things went well except that mother couldn’t turn the corners on her afghan.  When mother finally learned to turn the corners, she was on her way.  I am sure that my learning to crochet was for my mother’s benefit and not mine.  Mother spent the last years of her life making afghans for everyone she knew. Today I crochet the edging on the baby blankets for our church’s ministry to new mothers, but that is about all I crochet.

        That brings me to how I found the ministry that has bought me so much joy.  When we moved to Demopolis I became friends with Katie White.  She was a seamstress and, especially, a doll maker.  Katie said when she made a doll, a child could play really hard with the doll and not hurt it.  I liked that!  Katie began teaching me how to make 36” Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy dolls.

During this time a story came out in the newspaper about a child who was killed by his mother’s boyfriend.  The boy’s kindergarten teacher said, “I should have known that something was wrong because the child had such sad eyes.”  I cried when I read the story.  No child should have “sad eyes.”

This was it!  I had found the ministry that would bless me and bless the children who received my dolls.  I want to make children’s eyes happy!  Do I sell the dolls?  No!  I do it “Only for Love.”  What I receive from the children who are given one of the dolls is the smiling face they show me when they take the doll in their arms.  Do I count the hours of sewing?  No!

                                     My Desire

                        If in this world of darkness

                                I can light a fire,

                        If I can cause one child to smile,

                                That is my desire.

                        To forget whatever

                                May be my pain,

                        To brighten small, sad eyes

                                Is my fondest aim.


        What meaning can this ministry offer others?  Let me share an idea that has come to me.  The Bible says that the old should teach the young.  I would love to teach younger women how to make dolls.  Why?  Because there are so many children with sad eyes who need some extra love.  A woman could spend a few hours learning to do something that would bless her for the rest of your life!

        With that in mind, I am inviting my sewing group at our church to spend the day with me. And I am asking each one of them to invite a younger woman to come with them – a granddaughter or anyone who comes to mind.  The most important thing will be for us to share a day of passing on the gifts God has blessed us with.  Each one of these ladies has special gifts that they can teach younger women.  We can share the joy we have received from making Prayer Shawls and Baby Blankets “only for love.”

        My life is richer because Cephelia Stewart took the time to share with me the great secret of doing something for others “only for love.” + + + +