Cookie Stokes

October 15th, 2009 · No Comments

I came to Royal Lane in 1969 at the invitation of my in-laws, John and Bettye Stokes. Bill and I had just returned from his Army days in El Paso and Okinawa. John was a deacon and the deacons had “Little Flocks”. These groups met in the deacon’s homes. There were quite a few people who came who could not attend on Sundays because of their work schedules. The people of Royal Lane were very involved in missions. The attic above our current kitchen was a clothes closet. This led to our being a founding organization of North Dallas Shared Ministries. We had our own kindergarten; we worked with Moses Reagan at Tabernacle Baptist Church in West Dallas; we were active with the Greater Dallas Community of Churches and the STEP (Strategies To Elevate People) program.

Mollie Cowden was the Sunday School teacher for a young women’s class. We never wanted to miss a single Sunday. Mollie was a profound scholar. When she talked about God in a personal way, I thought, “I want to know God like that!” In addition, people in the class really cared about each other, helping out in times of need. For a couple of years I worked full time and went to graduate school at night. The women in class would know all about each other and I wondered how. In 1972 I was able to start attending on Wednesday evenings and I thought, “This is how they know about each other.” This was also the year that our son, Jonathan, was born. We had a baby dedication service when he was 10 days old. He was scrawny and jaundiced. Don and Patsy Meier had their daughter, Lara, present. She was 2 months old, chubby and pink-cheeked. We laughed about the comparison for years.

Our adult Sunday School classes were thriving, but none of us wanted to sacrifice our class time to work in the children’s area. For a year or two Kathy Turner and I alternated Sundays, teaching in the 2nd grade class. It was really a disaster, certainly not fair to the children. I heard someone say that a really successful Sunday School class would have no members left. It got me to thinking and I committed to teach the 5th and 6th grade class. It became my calling. Theresa Helms taught the 3rd and 4th grade. One year we had an extra large class of 5th and 6th graders and they asked Theresa and I to teach together. We have been teaching together ever since, more than 30 years. We have a blast. Every year we adjust our activities to fit the gifts and interests of the children. We’re now in the 3rd and 4th grade, but we’ve never repeated a project. Our goal is to teach the children to love God, to enjoy each other, and to love to come to church.

In 1976 our daughter, Corrie, was born. In 1979 I was asked to serve as a deacon. I had worked for the same small company for 10 years. My world was complete. I was so content that I did not see Bill’s pain. I was devastated when he wanted a divorce. Royal Lane was supportive to both of us. We were one of the first couples, but certainly not the last, to both continue coming to Royal Lane after a divorce. Now, not then, I can see that God was at work. One thing that I’ve learned at Royal Lane is to ask for help, both from others and from God.

While married we had never really taken a family vacation. I wanted my children to have the experience of traveling across America. I would save money for two years and then we would take a trip, always including my mother, my aunt from Roswell, New Mexico, and a nephew. In 1987 instead of taking a vacation I went on my first mission trip to Del Rio, Texas. We only had four adults, Kyle Henderson, Van Temple, Paula Bright and myself. Paula had leukemia and this turned out to be the last year of her life. It was a tender experience for all of us. If you ever go on one of Royal Lane’s mission trips, you are committed for life. The only year that I have missed since then was in 2006 when I began the Alternative Certification teaching program with Dallas ISD. The missioners that year brought me back a hand-carved bench made in Kentucky. They all signed it and it is one of my true treasures. My sister, Kristene, reminded me that when we were children I was always organizing all of my siblings and neighbors into performing storybook plays, such as “Snow White and Rose Red.” We’d get the costumes, assign roles, and act out the story for whoever we could get to watch. My sister pointed out to me that that’s what I get to do on mission trips. I tell the stories of the Bible and get the children to act them out.

I also get to do the play acting with my grandchildren. Jonathan and his wife, Sofi, have nine children from age 3 to 15: Jon, Olivia, Cora, Hart, Bennett, Paul, Andrew, Sarah, and Y’shua. They live in Austin, but love to come to Bigmama’s house and to Royal Lane, especially for the donuts. Corrie and her partner, Kerry, have a 2-year old daughter, Hazel. They also live in Austin where Corrie is the Deputy City Auditor and Kerry is a counselor.

I’ve always lived life to the fullest, so my current treatment for breast cancer hasn’t changed that. However, Nancy Ferrell anticipated my needs long before I did. She organized a Cookie’s “Stress Reduction Plan”. I am thankful for all the people who came on Thursday nights to bring supper and to help grade Algebra II papers. God is trying to teach me patience. Royal Lane has taught me to value both personal and community relationships with God. I find the feminine characteristics of God to be a missing piece of the puzzle. One day Jo Ferguson and I were walking at Northpark near the F. A. O. Swartz Toy Store. The entrance included a portion of a huge green dinosaur leg with yellow toenails. Jo pointed to the smallest yellow nail and said, “This is how much we know about God.” She is SO right.

Tags: A Royal Story