Lawson writes . . . sharing thoughts and memories

December 16, 2009

Clearwater, Florida

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 9:25 am

In all our lives there are certain places that have special significance and memories.  Clearwater, Florida is one of such places in my life.

The summer after high school graduation, I visited family in central Florida. I had received a scholarship and was preparing to enter Emory University to study dentistry.  My great uncle wanted to take us on a day trip to the west coast of Florida.  I remember so well driving across the Courtney Campbell Causeway from Tampa to Clearwater.  I believe it was the most beautiful place I had ever seen.  It still holds an unbelievable fascination for me.  We also saw Clearwater Beach and I fell in love with it.  We drove north into Port Richey and when I saw those canals, I commented, “This is where I will open my dental office!”  (Of course I soon forgot that plan!}

My life plans began to go a different direction.  I walked away from college and into a life style that did not reflect the values on which I had been raised.  After a couple of years, I ran off to Texas.  I was ready to start a new life, whatever the future might hold. Yet I still had not forgotten  Clearwater, Florida.

I found a place to live and found a new friend.  His name was Joe Franks.  He was a veteran whose maturity as a committed Christian would become a great influence in my life.  And to my surprise, he was from Clearwater, Florida!  He had grown up in Calvary Baptist Church.  I could have never known what connections these would become.

Several years later my father  relocated with his company to Tampa.  He and my mother chose to live across the bay in Clearwater.  I came from Texas to aid them in the move.   I was deeply settled in Texas after these several years, and I  had no intentions to ever leave Texas. However I found myself again attracted to Clearwater, Florida.  I rejoiced that my parents would live in Clearwater and I would be coming often to visit.  I fully anticipated returning to my adopted State of Texas.  But that would change! 

 I attended church with my parents the first Sunday after the relocation.  I walked into the church and saw this beautiful young lady named Judith Richbourg.  Immediately my mind and heart said, “I am never going back to Texas!” 

She was a native of Clearwater.  She was all that one could imagine.  A beach lover, beauty queen, radiant, confident, committed to the Lord, and prepared to follow God’s will.  By now, God had gotten hold of my life and given me directions.  Now at 27 years of age my life was to be completed. Within 14 months she would become my life partner. It was so obvious that God had been at work.  He had planted Clearwater in my heart for reasons that I could have never understood.

Judy had been baptized at Calvary Baptist Church–the church where Joe had been raised!  And although I would serve another church in Clearwater, only God would have known that some 10 years later, we would return from Costa Rica to serve Calvary Baptist Church.

Now you see why Clearwater, Florida is so important in my life! That is why I mentioned in the last blog about the family reunion.  It  was even more.  Although Jennifer’s conference of over 800 was for women, this father attended, of course.  And it was also a reunion with church folks that we had loved for years. 

But why do I share all this with you?  It is because we need to know that God can be working in our lives when we are not even aware.  We need to be sensitive when a dream is in our heart.  God may have planted that dream as a preview of the future, even if we saw the dream as purely selfish.  I am so glad that my God touched my life in1953 with the dream of living in Clearwater, Florida.  For there life came together for me with meaning and purpose.

Trust God with your future.  He said, “For I know the plans I have for you.  Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)  When life had no real purpose, God was at work in my life. I was to out-of-tune with God to know what He had for me.  But I praise Him now that I can look back and see what He was doing. What a wonderful plan He had for me!

Consider the plans God has for you.  It is never too late to discover them and live them!




  1. Lawson, I loved this! Of course, Clearwater has many special memories for me, too. And among the best are those of my friendship with you and Judy, Jennifer, Lawson, and David! I’ve meant to write you and Judy since Martin and I worshipped at Calvary the Sunday after Thanksgiving. How wonderful to see how God us working in and through that church! Would have loved to be able to stay for Jennifer’s conference! Too much to write here….I thank God for you and Judy and how He has used you in my spiritual journey through the years. I love you both! Maggie

    Comment by maggie king — December 16, 2009 @ 3:17 pm | Reply

  2. I really enjoyed reading this. I often look at Jeremiah 29:11 and try to figure out God’s plan/s for my life. I question what the Lord really wants me to be doing and i haven’t got a clue. I would really appreciate it you and Mrs. Judy would pray for me as i try to figure out what the Lord would have me to do. As you know, i’m currently at UA and i’m majoring in Communications with a concentration in Broadcast. I don’t know really know, to be honest, if i’m even supposed to be at UA or if i’m supposed to be majoring in this field. Life is quite confusing and aggravating at times but i know God has a purpose for every step of my journey. I do sometimes wonder if i jumped onto the right train tracks or if i simply went to Alabama b/c i didn’t know where else to go or what else to do. Thanks for taking the time out of your day to read this and to pray for me.
    With love,

    Comment by Jonathan — December 17, 2009 @ 7:19 pm | Reply

  3. I know there is no way for you to forget Clearwater. After all; “Tis the season to be Jolly.”

    Comment by Derek — December 17, 2009 @ 8:07 pm | Reply

  4. I am loving these glimpses into your world-great insights. Judith is beautiful, isn’t she? The best thing to come out of Clearwater!

    Comment by jjr, mo — December 31, 2009 @ 11:09 am | Reply

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