Often life is hard, but God is always good

Posts tagged ‘Grandmother’

Chicken Before the Egg: Thoughts on Faith

bluebirdschicken

Photo credit: Julie Weatherbee

“For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.” Psalm 100:5

My grandmother had faith in Jesus Christ. She walked it out by her acts of kindness, her faithful church attendance, her daily devotional reading of the Bible, and her teaching – mostly through the songs she sang us at bedtime (“Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so”.)

My mother followed in her footsteps, after wandering a while in the fog of Eastern religions during her hippie phase. Mom has faith in Jesus Christ and his love for her.

I do, too.

Today I am reflecting, with gratitude, on how my faith is in God’s faithfulness. The chicken comes first, then the egg, so to speak. His faithful love that is enduring leads to my faith and trust in that love.

Recently, I was served at a restaurant by a young waitress with a tattoo of a Bible verse reference on her forearm: I John 4:19. This is the classic chicken before the egg truth: “We love because he first loved us.”

I pray my children and grandchildren will experience faith – the precious commodity of knowing personally the unending goodness and love of God that “continues through all generations”.

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Hebrews 11: 6

 

No burden of bitterness

5328457580_058503f770_z

Photo Credit: Rhino Neal

Get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:31 NIV

 I jumped back as if stung; the words on the page had leapt, too. Not mine, but my grandmother’s. Why had I opened her journal? Entering her bedroom was innocent enough – checking on whether she was ready to go to the church service. An open door and an empty room don’t excuse reading another’s personal diary! But, the damage was done. I had opened the worn leather cover and read the first page that opened to my touch.

What had I read? Her personal and anguished thoughts about moving away from her family and familiar Philadelphia environs. It must have been an old journal because my grandmother had lived for many years in the Chesapeake Bay area in this unique house by the water, designed by her husband to boat to and from. She had always seemed serene, busy, and connected to church and community in the Northern Neck of Virginia during these retirement years.

So what did it mean? It was another evidence of my grandmother’s faith and maturity – that she didn’t become bitter and isolated, even when her initial feelings about uprooting from Pennsylvania were so intensely painful.

I do not endorse or excuse my own actions to violate her privacy. I am ashamed that I never confessed to her what I had done, and now it is too late because she has gone to glory. This “story” came to mind recently because so often we don’t know what another person has had to overcome – so often the cheerful person we know has already moved far beyond hurt and pain, having won their personal battle with resentment.

I would like emulate my grandmother, carrying no burden of bitterness with me as I move forward in life. The Bible describes bitterness as something that can take root and grow– that, too, is something I pray to avoid.

“See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” Hebrews 12: 15

Lord, please remove any small or large bitter roots in our hearts. May we follow Paul’s exhortation to “get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger”.  In its place, please grow kindness, compassion, and forgiveness.

Amen

 

 

Abounding in Love and Faithfulness

Photo Credit: Lisa Widerberg

Photo Credit: Lisa Widerberg

And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.” Exodus 34:6 NIV

I first heard that the Lord “abounded in love and faithfulness” from my grandmother, Dorothy Clay Watson, aka “Grandmummy”.

She has gone to glory, but her own faithful declaration of the constant affection of the Lord for me built a solid foundation for my soul.

Every time I stayed overnight at her house, my Grandmummy walked with me up the creaky stairs to the spare bedroom. She paused at the landing to retrieve a silver candlestick with a candle stub that she would light. This magical ritual culminated in our kneeling by the bed to sing songs as a nighttime benediction by candlelight.

Precious.

Recently, I crooned one of these holy songs to my own infant granddaughter as I rocked her by the crib before putting her to bed:

Jesus loves me — this I know

For the Bible tells me so

Little ones to Him belong

They are weak but He is strong

Refrain: Yes, Jesus loves me! 
Yes, Jesus loves me!

Yes, Jesus loves me! 
The Bible tells me so

(Original poem by Anna Barlett Warner, Hymn by William Batchelder Bradbury)

The faithfulness of God is yours and mine from our birth to our present moment.

My eyes with the clarity of heavenly sight look back and see He has kept his pledge to love me always. He has protected, re-directed, and placed strategic people in my life.

Can you see the evidence of His faithfulness to you?

May we “pay it forward” by proclaiming to others the wonder of our dependable, steadfast God who loves us forever.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases his mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning, new every morning. Great is your faithfulness, Oh Lord. ©1974, 1975 Celebration / Written by Edith McNeill

Do I Pass the Generosity Test?

Image by © Ariel Skelley/Blend Images/Corbis

Image by © Ariel Skelley/Blend Images/Corbis

“But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Matthew 6:4 (NIV)

“Pleased to meet you”, I said as I shook Miriam’s hand. She was introduced to me as the math curriculum supervisor at the homeschool company I was touring. My personal connection to the owner brought me to the business and now I was seeing who worked there in addition to how it was all run.

Suddenly, Miriam’s eyes shone with tears: “You are Laure Liversidge, right?”

“Why yes, that’s my maiden name.”

“Your grandmother changed my life,” Miriam asserted with a watery smile. “I used to clean for her. When I confided to her that I wanted to become a teacher, she gave me the funds to go to school.”

I was flabbergasted. The grandmother she was speaking of was the socialite, the wealthy Philadelphian who wore her mink coat to cocktail parties and fed lobster salad to her friends at her spacious summer home in Maine.

My childhood memories of this grandmother included the vision of a lit cigarette dangling from the fingertips of her right hand while the perfectly polished fingernails of her left hand gracefully held a sweating tumbler of expensive scotch on the rocks.

I loved and admired her, but I realize I didn’t fully know her because she gave in secret and no one found out what she did because she didn’t announce it to the world.

What is the test of true generosity? I don’t think it is the amount of the giving; it is the heart of the matter. Not only did my grandmother not announce her giving with trumpets like the hypocrites of Jesus’ day, but I don’t believe she made too much of it to herself .

Matthew Henry commented on the part of Jesus’ teaching about how the”left hand should not know what the right hand is doing:

“That we must not observe it too much ourselves: the left hand is a part of ourselves; we must not within ourselves take notice too much of the good we do, must not applaud and admire ourselves. Self-conceit and self-complacency, and an adoring of our own shadow, are branches of pride, as dangerous as vain-glory and ostentation before men.”

I recently heard another touching story about my grandmother. Years ago, when our childhood nanny asked to have her wedding rehearsal dinner at my grandma’s home, she answered “yes”, and then donned an apron and served the guests herself, including the bride-to-be’s mother who had been her cook for many years.

The state of our heart is what is important. God looks at it and promises to renew it when we ask.

“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Psalm 51: 10 (NIV)

 

Who Do We Imitate?

Photo Credit: Anna Toss

Photo Credit: Anna Toss

“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Ephesians 5:1, 2 New International Version

“Imitate: verb (used with object) 1. to follow or endeavor to follow as a model or example.” (www.dictionary.com)

Conducting oneself like another person means following his or her behavior, reproducing the same actions, not just having the same intentions.  “Do what I say, not what I do” remains a substandard motivator.  We need to see someone doing the worthy acts to effectively mirror them.

My maternal grandmother is one of the most admirable human models I have to imitate.   She lived to be a hundred and one years old and recently died peacefully in her sleep free of disease or pain.  This end is one I would certainly choose if I were in control of the nature of my death.  Needless to say, that power does not reside in me, but much is left to me about how I choose to live.

When my grandmother moved away to retire near the Chesapeake Bay, she regularly invited us to stay for extended visits and showed her delight in our arrival by having clean sheets on the beds and vases of fresh-cut flowers lovingly arranged in a vase on the bedside table.  This is my routine now.

She spoke with kindness and had an established habit of writing encouraging notes as well as saying to our faces what she liked about us.   This is my custom now.

Church membership and attendance stayed a priority all her life, even with all the imperfections inherent in a religious community of people.  I try to practice that, too.

When my grandmother made these choices who was she imitating?  Her mother? Another relative?  A friend?

I would like to think that if we keep tracing a worthy behavior back to its root, we will end up looking right into the face of God.  “Imitate God”, Paul exhorts the Ephesians.  Do what God did.  Love. Forgive. Encourage.

In my Read- through-the-bible plan I am almost to the New Testament, and I look forward to taking a deeper look at what Jesus said and did in the gospel accounts.  I remember that He was kind to his mother, and he took time for children.  He looked past the sinful behaviors of others to befriend them.

Which flesh and blood person do you resemble?

How do you imitate God?

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: