Paul Thomas.

Dodging splashes from two squirrely girls I couldn’t help but laugh. Both faces kept dipping into bath bubbles and popping up saying “look I’m Santa Claus!”

Twenty minutes later a ball of green and a ball of pink huddled giggling on the hallway floor as both girls dried off under towels.

The night finished with my lap full as I stared at the back of two little heads watching the pages I read from a book. I kissed those heads: one mostly skin due to hair loss and the other with hair so thick you can’t find the head. With a song and a prayer and three little questions I tucked those heads into bed.

Folding laundry inside the doors I count my blessings and I ask questions:

“How do I raise these girls right? How do I raise them to be godly mothers and wives? How do I launch them into the world and as godly, successful women?

I know a man who did it.

Paul Thomas

In about 40 years Paul Thomas worked a career in the “film” industry, maintained a healthy marriage, launched 3 godly kids into the world and wore out more than a few sets of golf clubs.

Paul attended Indiana State University pursuing a degree in English with plans to become a teacher. Yet student teaching showed him his interests might lie in a different field.

The Film Industry

During college he worked as a parking lot attendant at a bank downtown. Through this job he met a lady named Jane Washburn, who was married to a man who worked for Ethyl Visqueen (Later Tredegar Films). This friendship eventually landed him a job as a lab tech by Jack (Jane’s husband).

From his hiring in October 1973 this English major worked his way up through the ranks from lab tech to Research Advisor. By his retirement a year ago Paul holds more than 31 patents with his name as the inventor. Over the years Paul travelled the world solving problems for the company.

The Marriage

January 1971; a coed named Elaine Cook stopped in with friends at Sandison Hall (ISU) to visit a friend. Like any red-blooded man, this guy didn’t want to lose the attention of four girls. So, with the speedy inspiration that typically comes in the presence of girls he had an idea. A musically inclined friend just returned from a break, would the girls like to hear him sing and play the guitar? They agreed and Paul was invited down.

By the end of January, Paul and Elaine were a couple.

They’ve gone steady about 46 years now.

Roger, Amy……………..and then Valerie

Paul and Elaine raised three…

From toddlers to godly parents.

From tantrums to faithful spouses.

From doubt to faith.

Impressive. I want to do this.

Spring 2016 Cornerstone needed another elder

In the search we kept returning to one man. Paul recently retired from travelling the world leaving him more time for Elaine, golf, grandkids, and God. His three adult children sported healthy marriages, growing children and solid faith. Paul had perspective and wisdom we needed.

If there’s one thing Paul possesses in abundance, it’s questions. His logical brain chews through his world making him explore what others take for granted. I spent many meetings interviewing Paul and discussing his questions as we explored his eldership. Finally convinced of God’s leading and our need for Paul we invited him to the leadership of Cornerstone.

I thank God we did.

Paul plays a very important role as both the most senior and junior elder. He arrived last on the board yet he has more life experience than the rest of us. This frequently saves my bacon!

The beauty of Paul’s position lies in his ability to see established church positions from fresh eyes. Yet his fresh perspective comes marinated in abundant life experience.

Here’s what Paul has taught me over the last year and a half. 

Perspective matters

About four different times I’ve called Paul pretty upset about a person or problem. Usually I interrupt a golf game and energetically explain my situation. He listens patiently, offers a different perspective with a few words and lets me go. Every time his perspective has strengthened relationships and made the Cornerstone community better.

Experience helps

Paul bring a unique perspective to the elders. He has loads of skill in practical application. He knows what good Christian family, marriage and community looks like. To put it another way, Paul has produced good Christian family, marriage and community by his life. Experience matters.

Sitting with him I know Paul has applied most principles God wants me to teach…I just need to figure out how to teach and do the same!

Relational time bridges age gaps

Now retired, Paul works a dream job. He drives the ISU golf team to tournaments. His hours and days spent with the golf team bridges age gaps. Though Paul clocks in somewhere past 60, those college students love him! Frequently over the last year Paul put together outreaches to serve college students. His golf team shows up every time.

I love how Paul invests in college students and finds ways to share his faith.



Carpenter, Organizer, Mother, Musician, Computer Tech and more.

Paul’s wife Elaine Thomas wears many hats with many talents. Her hard work and strength stand behind much of Paul’s story. She truly embodies the statement,

“Behind every great man there is a great woman.”

I appreciate Elaine so much that I’m not going to say much more about her here. Talking about her would take more than a paragraph…maybe another blog. 🙂 She’s worth getting to know.

Paul’s marriage to Elaine makes me appreciate the deep value of my Ashley all the more. 

Robin Hood by Disney, 1973

Tonight Ashley and I watched the classic animated Robin Hood. That movie sparked so many memories since Ashley and I (born in 1985) grew up with it.

Tonight I find myself particularly thankful for a man who started his career in “film” that same year. His work and life also leaves a powerful effect on the lives of many men and women.

Thanks Paul.

*Thanks to Elaine for feeding me facts via text.

*Thanks to Ashley for catching missing commas and grammar issues.

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