Family and friends came together Monday night at the Neosho Civic for the annual Tree of Memories, hosted by Clark Funeral Home.

Family and friends came together Monday night at the Neosho Civic for the annual Tree of Memories, hosted by Clark Funeral Home.

“This is the 16th annual Tree of Memories celebration,” said Fred Clark, owner of Clark Funeral Homes. “We call it a celebration, I think that you know why, because we are here to celebrate the lives of loved ones who are no longer with us. But they live on within our hearts and they are with us every day. We think about them every day, we go on and do the best that we can. But this is the way that we honor them, by hanging these trees with ornaments tonight.”

Combined with music from The Henry Family, Karla Boatright and Lindsey Daniels, the keynote speaker was Todd Decker, director of pastoral care at Freeman Health System.

“I would like to thank Clark Funeral Home for the opportunity to speak, to be able to speak to the community, because Neosho really will always be home for our family,” Decker said. “So it is an honor and a privilege to speak to the people of Neosho and the surrounding community.”

Decker was formerly the pastor at Neosho’s First Baptist Church, when the church was located in downtown Neosho. The title of his message was “What Can We Count On from God.”

“There are three things that we can count on from God,” he said. “First of all, we can count on God to hear us when we pray. When we pray, we are not talking to a brick wall.

We are not praying in a vacuum, we are not speaking empty words into the air that hit the ceiling and bounce back. We are not talking to ourselves, we are visiting with God. And he is leaning forward to listen. Prayer is conversation with God. It is dialog with God, it is friendship with God. Now I say that it is OK to be angry with God, but maybe it is not OK to stay that way. God knows your feelings anyway. You might as well express to him what he already knows…”

Second, Decker said, “we can count on God to be with us when we are hurting. Third, we can count on God to go with us wherever we may go. I think one of the goals of a grieving person should be to allow yourself to begin experiencing good days. You know that you are making progress when you start having some good days. And let me say that it is OK to have bad days, and it is OK to do holidays different, it is OK to be sad, but yet it is OK when you find yourself laughing again.”

Decker encouraged the audience to pray.

“The message of the parable and my message to you tonight is keep on praying, and never lose heart,” Decker said.
After Decker’s speech, one by one, audience members came to the front of the stage to put their ornaments on one of two trees — one tree for Granby and one for Neosho.

Also during the event, Clark Funeral Homes presented Newton County Food Basket Brigade with a $3,500 check.

See Wednesday’s edition of the Neosho Daily News for a story on the official kickoff of the Newton County Food Basket Brigade.