Note: Back in March 2012, I had the pleasure to speak with L.D. and Frances Alvey. I asked them both what they believed was the meaning of life. Last year I was collecting a few vignettes from the elder generation on the topic. At the time of this interview, I hadn’t made some of the tough decisions I have made today that I felt were necessary to the journey I needed to take. After this conversation, I realized that we all not only have a story to tell, but to live. The influencing force depends on the person.
L.D. Alvey sat back in his chair as he recalled his life. His wife Frances sat near him as dim light from outside filled their living room.
“She’s my memory,” he said with a smile.
They met after Mr. Alvey followed his career in the Merchant Marines by working as a welder at a company across the street from a diner Mrs. Alvey’s mother owned in Fort Worth, Texas. He was 26, she was 15 and she said everyone told her it wouldn’t last. However the Forth Worth girl and the Kissimmee, FL, young man have been married 60 years.
The Alveys have a several decades-long history of ministry work including 13 churches they started all over the nation. Mr. Alvey is now 87, his wife 76. Every moment of their lives has been dedicated to their faith.
“God expects us to do what we’re supposed to do,” Mr. Alvey said.
He said thatwhatever your mission in life is, you should not ignore it. To the Alveys, glorifying God is the meaning of life and although they struggled, “God always provided.”
“It is a false picture that when you get saved, it’s a bed of roses,” Mr. Alvey said.
“There’s storms,” Mrs. Alvey said softly.
When their first-born son Rodger was killed in an industrial accident, people questioned their desire to continue their work in the church. But the tragedy didn’t slow them down from their mission.
“God didn’t kill my son, life did,” Mr. Alvey said. “I just said, ‘he’s there ahead of me making preparations for me to get there.’ It broke my heart — it hurt for a long time.”
Mr. Alvey’s voice cracked slightly but quickly recovered and said, “But I preached for years and years. God doesn’t make mistakes. I don’t understand it all or know about it. But what do you do? God plans it out for you and you go along and say ‘thank you, Lord.’”
What the Alveys’ lives were like while continuing their work, no matter the odds, is full of close calls and miracles. Wherever they traveled to minister or begin churches, if they faced any financial strife, they always managed to make it through the difficulties either from donations or welding jobs Mr. Alvey could find. But they never asked for a set fee to come and minster. They just said, “A love offering would be just fine.”
“He has had good welding jobs, we would leave, go some place, not have a job or income whatsoever. Then L.D. would get a job and God provided,” Mrs. Alvey said. “That didn’t mean we always had plenty but we had what we needed.”
The connection Mr. and Mrs. Alvey have was as enduring as it was youthful as they kidded one another and practically finished each other’s sentences. Their living room was filled with photos of their lives — four children, 13 grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren. Their joy seemed as tangible as the photos.
“People think happiness is something you make. You don’t make happiness. You choose to be. Money don’t make you happy. Wealth is not the answer but a close relationship with the Lord is the answer,” Mrs. Alvey said. “When times are bad, things happen, and bad things happen to good people — even those serving the Lord. But God is always there with them. Peace brings happiness to me.”
Mr. and Mrs. Alvey were on a steady schedule of traveling across the country visiting churches they are associated with in states such as Michigan, Kansas and Florida until 2011. Mr. Alvey faced some health issues and the couple slowed down. But no matter the age or the health, Mr. Alvey has kept his tenacity.
“We go, we do and as long as I’m feeling good and up to it, we go places and do things,” he said. “We travel. Why sit down and die?”
The following update comes from the Alveys’ son, David:
Dad fell and broke a vertebra in his lower back last December. He spent a week in the hospital and four weeks in a physical rehab center. He’s home now (although still in a back brace for at least another four weeks.) Although his Alzheimer’s disease and his prostate cancer continue their relentless progression, he still has that twinkle in his eye and a joyful spirit. I had dinner with mom and dad tonight along with Carolyn (my wife) and our thre sons: Nick (14), Sam (12) and Nathan (10); my son Luke (31), daughter-in-law, Jacquelin and granddaughter Guinevere (18 months). He and mom are both great inspirations to us.