“Thankful for My Grandmother…”

I thank my God every time I remember you,…” – Philippians 1:3

I was returning home this morning from taking my kids to school, and I was flooded by memories of my grandmother.  That was kind of surprising, but I stopped my car in the driveway and just let the memories flow.  I have to admit, I don’t think of her that often.  She passed away 15 years ago, a lifetime considering how far I have traveled down life’s path in that period.

But, as I sat there, the biggest smile came to my face and heart as I remembered specific encounters with her.  She was not a television caricature of a grandmotherly figure.  She wasn’t a sweet, little old lady making cookies every afternoon.  However, she did make a chocolate cake to die for.

Instead, my grandmother had a hard edge to her.  No doubt, she was a result of her upbringing during the Depression and such.  I knew she loved me fiercely, but not in a warm and fuzzy kind of way.  She took bluntness to an almost offensive level.  She never sugar-coated anything.  She always spoke the truth (as she saw it,) and never seemed to take your feelings in account when doing so.  (Memories of “He’s just not that into you…” are flooding through my mind.). She wasn’t malicious, just honest.

She was the hardest worker I have ever met in my life.  She was always working.  If not at her job, then in her garden, her kitchen, anywhere she was, needed something done.  She rose at 5:30 each morning, cooked breakfast and set off to work.  And she didn’t stop until late that evening.

She occupied herself with caring for my brother and me.  I just realized this morning what a stabilizing presence she was for us in what, many times, was and unstable childhood.  I spent every weekend with her from the age of ??? until I was 15.  Weekends filled with favorite foods, favorite tv shows, and anything else I wanted.  I remember distinctly going to the dime store for banana icees and lollipops bigger than your head.  She took me to see my first movie, Snow White, when I was around 6.  She read me the same book before bed for years, because it was the one I wanted.

Living in a small town, all our high school ball games were broadcast on the radio.  So even when she couldn’t make it to a basketball game, I knew she had sat by her radio listening, because later, she would discuss what the announcers had to say about my performance.  She probably didn’t understand everything she heard, but her heart was there.

She sure didn’t mind sharing her opinions about the people I dated.  And she was wide open on stressing the dangers of drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, wild parties and the backseats of cars!  Nothing was off limits for her.

But here was the greatest things about her:  she loved me, no matter what.  She had this unconditional love that was steadfast, never-wavering, and always looking out for my best interest.  I am convinced that she would have loved me the same whether in her living room or visiting me in prison.  I won’t say she always believed the best about me, her honesty made sure of that.  She never thought I was perfect, however, regardless of where I was in life, she loved me anyway.

What a perfect model for understanding my Savior.  I can understand His love for me, because I have experienced it with her.  I believe in His unchanging love and ever-flowing grace because I have experienced it with her.  And, like my grandmother, Jesus is self-sacrificing, always looking out for my best interest.  He is my safe harbor in the midst of the storm and the place that I run to when in need someone to love me unconditionally.  Just like her.

I hope that you have someone in your life that represents that kind of love.  If you do, maybe spend some time remembering today.  Or even better, if they are still with us, call them up and say thank you.  God places those “channels of grace” in our lives to bless us.  May we be forever thankful for them.

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for my grandmother.  Thank you for reminding me of her today, and showing me how very much I was loved as a child.  What some wonderful memories.  Help me to love with the same steadfastness as she did.  And lead me to be a grace dispenser to those most important in my world.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 

 

“What Do I Have to Smile About?”

“Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name.   

Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me.

 He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases.

 He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies.

 He fills my life with good things.”

 Psalm 103 1-5

I once heard an argument between a married couple that has stayed with me for a long time. In the midst of arguing about their primary problem (I don’t know what it was,) the husband said to his wife, “You never smile anymore.” The wife quickly responded, “What do I have to smile about?”

Sometimes I feel this way too. Sometimes, it seems as if everything is going wrong, my outlook is bleak, and very quickly I fall victim to the “woe is me” syndrome. These periods are part of our human condition, everyone has them.

If you are in one of these places right now, let me affirm your feelings.   We encounter some hard places in this life. And it is completely acceptable to feel sad, or maybe even angry about those situations. We have been given those emotions for a reason. It is even more acceptable to share those feelings with God. He is our heavenly Father, and He hurts when we do.

However, I don’t especially like feeling that way. It makes for a long day, and many times, an even longer night. On occasions like that, I take myself back to psalm 103. I remind myself that, although my life might not be what I want at that particular time, there are still good things about it. I remind myself that although things are really bad, I still have reason to praise God and thank Him for His faithfulness in the storm. Surely, I can find one thing to be grateful for, can’t I?

And what if you are in a good place? This is a great thing for you to do too. Have you really sat down and considered deeply the good things you have? If you are like me, that exercise could take all day. Beginning with the fact that I woke up again today, and stretching all the way through the thought that I can go to church without fear. I have many things for which I am thankful.

Regardless of where you find yourself today friends, consider spending some time in deep thought regarding the good things and thanking our Lord for them. You might find your heart filled with praise, and maybe you will find that you do, indeed, have something to smile about.

Heavenly Father,

You are good to me. I thank You for _____________________________________. And I praise Your holy name. Hallelujah to my Jehovah-jireh, my Lord and provider!

 In Christ’s name I pray,

Amen

In case you are having a really bad day, I thought I might throw this silly song in to get you started. If you are having a great day, this is the song to sing –by all means! (P.S. I take fully responsibility if it stays in your head all day) Be blessed!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=anMDkv9Bqy0

Lectio Divina Passage for Today:

“But she said, “I swear by the Lord your God that I don’t have a single piece of bread in the house. And I have only a handful of flour left in the jar and a little cooking oil in the bottom of the jug. I was just gathering a few sticks to cook this last meal, and then my son and I will die.”

 But Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid! Go ahead and do just what you’ve said, but make a little bread for me first. Then use what’s left to prepare a meal for yourself and your son.  For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: There will always be flour and olive oil left in your containers until the time when the Lord sends rain and the crops grow again!”

So she did as Elijah said, and she and Elijah and her family continued to eat for many days.  There was always enough flour and olive oil left in the containers, just as the Lord had promised through Elijah.”

 1st Kings 17:12-16