How one woman is changing her community.
“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16
Once upon a time there was a sweet lady who lived in the little village of Poplar Plains in rural Kentucky. It was a crossroads with a flashing yellow light. Where the roads intersected were a dozen homes, a pasture, and the remnants of a once bustling general store. There was a beautiful old church just off the main road, its steeple standing tall against the test of time. Although not used frequently, it gave a nod to a community filled with faith.
There was another light around the corner in that community but it was not flashing or flashy. It was bright, but not blinding. You could easily miss it if you were in a hurry. But if you had the time that light gave off not only illumination, but warmth.
It came from the inside of the old bank building, Pearce/Fant Bank circa 1830’s. The light was reflecting off of something, or someone, but it wasn’t gold for the building was no longer used as a bank, but a family home and Humphries Antiques. The warmth of the light and its gentle incandescence took the chill out of that old building and gave it joy and new life.
After his first wife passed away, James noticed a treasure sitting in the pew. Its warmth and light put a little spark back in his life and soon he and Phyllis were married.
If you’ve ever heard of Poplar Plains, you’ve probably heard of its unofficial mayor, Sweet Phyllis Humphries. She was married to the pastor, James, who was also the Antique Dealer in the community. She wasn’t a banker. Neither was he. But they possessed something priceless.
James had always had an eye for antiques and could spot a treasure a mile away. This had been his business his whole life. His first love was proclaiming God’s Word, second, Miss Phyllis and his family, but antiquing paid the bills.
Phyllis moved into the old bank and set up her beautician’s chair. There was a constant coming and going around their home. People came from far and wide to peruse the plethora of antiques James had accumulated over many years. Others came more frequently to have their hair done. Regardless of their intent, they always left with more than they came with. Sure, maybe they purchased a beautiful side table or left with a new hairdo, but even if they didn’t take something in their hands, they took something in their heart.
Phyllis and James were not shy about their faith and they exuded God’s love – they just couldn’t help it. The light of Christ reflected brightly off both of them. Strangers visited every day, but they left friends. Warmth and hospitality were their nature.
When it came time for James to retire as Pastor, Miss Phyllis, with the blessing and encouragement of James, began to open her home every month for Sweet Monday. Women from all walks of life would trickle in – even her granddaughter Ariel got involved. Phyllis would serve tea and coffee in beautiful antique cups, of course. There was always an abundance of “Goodies” the Sweet Ladies brought in to share. But the sweetest thing Phyllis would share came straight out of her Bible. The second sweetest thing was the hug she gave each lady as she departed.
You might say there was a run on the bank. Women began attending Phyllis’ Sweet Monday month after month. No matter how much they took home with them, there was always more love to give away. News spread of the treasures women were finding in the old bank and antiques store. Before long Phyllis began a Sweet Monday at the Senior Center in Flemingsburg for those ladies who couldn’t make it out to Poplar Plains.
Much has changed in the last few years for Phyllis: James passed away, the family sold off the antiques business, and she moved away from Poplar Plains to Mt. Sterling. But when Phyllis packed up and left the old bank home, she took the treasure with her.
Without missing a beat, Phyllis continued hosting Sweet Monday in her new home. Many of those who attended in Poplar Plains have followed her to Mt. Sterling. Phyllis’ light still shines in her community. The warmth of God’s love radiates to all those around her. Over the last six years, Phyllis has shared God’s love through Sweet Monday in such a powerful way that there are now four new Sweet Monday hostesses in the towns outside of Lexington, and one on the campus of the University of Kentucky! You might say that Phyllis has that spark that ignites a fire!
In Matthew, Jesus calls us all to make disciples. Sweet Phyllis is doing just that. She has shared her home, her heart, and her Hope with women faithfully through the ups and downs of life, encouraging and empowering others to do the same.