A Tale of Three Women

Let me tell you the story of three women: one named Doubter, one named Doer, and one named Faith. All three women had their fair share of sin, and all three women had their fair share of good deeds.

Doubter had no interest in God. She lived her life for herself, with little regard for morality or eternity. She made no effort to earn a place in the kingdom of God. Doubter thought faith in God was a crutch invented by the needy and foolish. She didn’t think she was so bad – she’d never killed anybody or anything. She figured if there was a god, he’d welcome her into eternity, because she was at heart a good person.

Doer, on the other hand, lived day in and day out in fear of God. Her life was filled with church activities. She attended a ladies Bible study and served at the homeless mission. Every week she read her Bible, prayed, and taught Sunday school. Doer worked hard to earn a place in the eternal kingdom of God. Yet, she could never trust God enough to accept the gift of salvation that Jesus was offering to her, finding it easier to trust in her own works to earn her own way.

And what about Faith? Faith, too, participated in plenty of church activities. Faith, also, read the Bible, prayed, and served the poor. But, Faith had a completely different heart than both Doubter and Doer.

Faith was not motivated by trying to earn God’s favor. She trusted that God was her good Father who loved her no matter what. She wanted to have a close relationship with her Father, so she followed Him wherever He led.
Faith lived in reverential fear of God, seeing His holiness and her depravity. She refused to be deceived into thinking she was a good person who deserved a spot in Heaven. Rather, Faith recognized her own brokenness and lived a life full of thanksgiving to God who rescued her. Faith trusted God to deliver her daily in the here and now, and in eternity.

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:4-9 ESV)

Which of these three women are you?

Do you see yourself in Doubter or Doer or Faith?

Which one do you want to be?

God is inviting you to receive a new name. How does Faith sound?

“The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name.” (Revelation 3:12 ESV)

A Tale of Two Boxes

On Wednesday our family received two big boxes in the mail. Both held Christmas gifts. Both were from friends that we love. Both brought great joy. Both had been excitedly looked forward to.

One box held bag upon bag of treats from China — gifts never before received. The other held a ziploc bag of homemade dried apple slices and a tin of delicious little heart cookies — gifts that had become a Christmas tradition in our home, received year after year.

And the Lord laid on my heart how we can enjoy Christmas year after year, looking forward with great joy to celebrating the gift of Jesus with the same excitement every single year. Or we can grow cold to this precious gift, seeing it as “old news,” no longer precious, always wishing for “something new.”

I pray that this year we will have renewed joy at the wonder of Christmas: Emmanuel, God with us. Whether this is your first Christmas with Jesus, your 25th, or your 75th, may you hold fast to your first love, with hearts full of the HOPE and JOY at the Messiah’s long- awaited coming.

A precious reminder of God’s love for me. Romans 15:13 is very special to me.

My Grandma Taught Me

Yesterday, I shared about the Christian heritage of my grandmother.  (Click here to read it, too!)  Today I’d like to share a story I’ve written about some lessons that my grandma taught me.  I’ve submitted this for a Chicken Soup for the Soul publication and am praying it gets selected.  Enjoy!  (You are welcome to share it in it’s entirety, but please link back here!)

My grandma cross-stitched this for me as a college graduation gift.

I remember my Grandma Norma’s sparingly stocked kitchen cupboards. As soon as I arrived for visits, she would take me straight to her kitchen to show me a gallon of vanilla ice cream in the freezer, a gallon of milk in the fridge, a box of cereal in a cabinet, along with a big can of V8 that she’d picked up “just for me.” She’d encourage me to make myself at home, enjoying a bowl of cereal or ice cream anytime I wanted. She taught me to value people more highly than things.

I remember many, many trips to Perkins, usually two in the same day. She’d ask for the senior special and I’d order a heaping platter of chocolate chip pancakes and a large glass of tomato juice. What I remember most about those trips is my grandma’s obvious pride in me. She loved to introduce me to the widow-friends she’d meet there for breakfast, as well as every waiter and waitress in the place. She knew them all by name. She’d share with me pieces of their lives that she’d learned on other recent visits to Perkins. She taught me to be a good listener.

I remember singing full volume in Grandma’s old green pickup truck while we drove around town. My grandma took me along wherever she went. While she drove, we’d belt out classic children’s songs, one after another. “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad,” “Three Little Ducks,” and “BINGO were among our favorites. Grandma insisted it helped her stay awake I’m sure it did! but it also gave us something fun to do in the car and I looked forward to it. I could still hear her beautiful voice ringing in my mind as I carried on the tradition with my own children many years later. She taught me to make the most of every moment.

I remember my Grandma Norma driving 50 mph down the dusty, gravel road from her house. With the steering wheel in one hand and a stick of bright red lipstick in the other, she’d peek occasionally in the rear-view mirror to make sure it was applied just right. Then, she’d draw a brush a few times through her naturally wavy, gray hair and she was ready to go. She taught me to always look my best.

I remember helping my grandma sell antiques at her two-story barn turned antique shop, The Woodn Wheel.” She encouraged me to be bold. I learned to walk right up to adults of all shapes and sizes, to ask if they needed any help and show them around. She trained me how to ring up a customer’s bill and make change. She taught me to be confident.

I remember that whatever errand we had to run, Grandma greeted everyone she met with a charming smile, a pleasant word of encouragement and two listening ears. It seemed like she knew everyone, and I was proud that this was my grandma. She taught me to be friendly.

I remember spending many quiet evenings looking at her walls covered with framed black-and-white photos. I loved looking at the pictures of my mom, and her sister and brothers growing up on our family farm. But I especially loved the pictures of my grandparents when they were young. Their heartfelt love for one another radiated out of those old photos. Widowed just before her 40th anniversary, she taught me to value love and devotion.

I remember being just on the verge of womanhood and going shoe shopping with my grandma. I was a petite young lady with size 5 feet. My grandmother towered over me. She was seven inches taller and wore shoes seven sizes larger! She walked me right into a boutique shoe shop and asked the clerk for help. Grandma was looking for the largest size they carried, and I was looking for the smallest. She taught me to appreciate myself just the way I was.

I remember many years later when I was a young mom with two children. Grandma Norma had come to our home for a visit. She absolutely refused to “be a burden. Night or day, she could always be found working away at something – whether sweeping the sidewalk or washing the dishes. Now it was my turn to take care of her, but, no, she was still my grandma, teaching me lessons I needed to learn. She taught me to be a hard worker.

I remember near the end of my grandma’s life, making the long drive to visit her at a nursing home. Even though she’d lost her ability to speak clearly, she greeted everyone with a smile. Her face radiated peace like you don’t see in many people in her circumstances. Just before heading back home, Grandma got my attention, struggling to communicate with me. Holding tightly onto my arm, she looked longingly into my eyes, mouthing, “I love you.” And I knew she did. She taught me to tell those you love how you feel.

And I remember the very last time I saw her. When it was time for me to leave, Grandma was sitting in her wheelchair in the nursing home’s dining room. She waved to me through the great glass windows as I walked to my car. I knew I might not see her again. I looked in at her and waved back. She waved and waved, grinning at me through white teeth, and her trademark red lipstick. She taught me to believe that “a joyful heart is good medicine.”

Pass It On – in Memory of Norma Myers

Yesterday was the 12th anniversary of my grandmother’s passing – 12/12. My Grandma Norma was a very special person in my life.

Grandma Norma came from a long line of Christians. This song, written by one of my grandmother’s relatives, attests to her Welsh ancestors’ love of music, family, church, and Jesus.

My great-great-great-grandmother, Margaret Rowland, was a woman of faith whose “supreme ambition seemed to center in her children — to provide them with all possible advantages for an education, and to train them for useful Christian lives” despite severe trials, including the loss of her first husband when she had six young children. She “lived a life of service and devotion, not restricted to her own family, but many in the neighborhood where she lived had occasion to feel grateful for help in time of need.”

Margaret Rowland’s daughter, Harriet, (my great-great-grandmother) was blessed with seven children and almost 50 years of marriage to her husband, Isaac.

Harriet, too, was a Christian mother dedicated to helping others, especially her grandchildren — like my grandma! My great-grandmother, Anna, is pictured at the top right. She is the pleasant looking one with a sweet smile.

 

Anna and her husband, Will, had four sons and one daughter. My grandma Norma was that one daughter.

Anna and Will were blessed with over 50 years of marriage and a house full of grandchildren and great grandchildren.

My grandparents were married on Christmas Day, 1938, with my grandmother carrying her Bible and wearing her great-grandmother’s brooch. (Aren’t they handsome? Did you notice how tall my grandmother is? I take after my dad’s side of the family.)

My grandfather passed away from pancreatic cancer shortly before they celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary. Here they are in front of their restaurant, “The Purple Cow” with my older sister and me.

I have often wondered if my own faith has its roots in the faithful women who went before me. God heard their prayers, blessing them with generations of Christ-followers. As Paul wrote to Timothy of the faith that dwelt in Timothy’s other and grandmother (2 Timothy 1:5) “and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 3:15)

I’m praying for these four right here.  My greatest desire for them isn’t to be the smartest, richest, most famous, or most popular.  It’s simply for them to know and love Jesus, to live for Him and His glory.

Allow me to encourage you, mothers, grandmothers, great-grandmothers, future mothers! You can pray for your sons and daughters, even for those not yet born. God hears you.

You can bless the generations to come by sharing the good news of the gospel and the truths of the scriptures. God will bless your efforts.

You can faithfully pass on your faith to the next generations. God is faithful. You can be faithful, too.

Heart check: How’s it going? Are you praying? Are your sharing?

TWIG