a legacy...

It has been one week.

One week.

One week since my family lost someone who has meant so much to us.  She was the matriarch of the family.  She was a mama, a grandmama, a great-grandmama, a great-great grandmama, and she was a dear friend and sister in Christ to many.

To me, though, she was my Grandma Johnnie.  My sweet but sometimes sassy, strong but also sensitive, loving but very truthful, 95 year old great-grandma.  She was my friend.  She was my teacher.  She was my cheerleader.  And, I miss her so dearly.

The thing about the one week mark is everyone has now offered their condolences.  They have all given their hugs and words of encouragement, but they have moved on.  Which really is fine.  It wasn't their grandmother.

But for me and for my family, the pain is still fresh.  It hurts maybe even more than it did a week ago when she went to be with our Father forever.  Because even though we know that she is rejoicing with the Lord and that she is pain free and that she is happier and more free and more ALIVE than she ever was here on earth, the truth still remains that she isn't here with us...and we wish she was.  Maybe more than any other time in my whole life, I just wish I could sit next to her and share all that is burdening my heart.  I would cry of course (much like I am doing right now).  She would tell me to toughen up.  She would tell me I am too sensitive and that I let my emotions get the best of me when I need to be focusing on truth.

But then in the way only she could do, she would speak truth over me and into me.  She would remind me what the Lord's Word says.  She would tell me stories of how she has seen God show Himself faithful to her and to our family over many years.  She would encourage me to keep strong and keep focused.  She would remind me of all I have to be thankful for.  She would tell me that she is praying for me every single day. And, I would know that this is true.  I would know that it is all true, but I would leave her warm living room, encouraged, strengthened, and ready to face all of this stuff head on.

She isn't here, though.  She is gone to be with the Father.  She is free.  And that makes my heart so full of joy....knowing that she is not dead but alive.

Yet, today, my heart still aches.  The ache is strong. The grief is even stronger.

Throughout this week, though, a song has been playing over and over again in my head.  It is a song that I haven't heard in quite a few years but its words were fresh in my heart this week.    It is the song "Legacy" by Nichole Nordeman.  It is a great song and I recommend you taking the time to listen to if you don't know it all ready.  But the chorus is what has just been playing over and over again in my head this week.  It goes like this...

I want to leave a legacy
How will they remember me?
Did I choose to love? Did I point to You enough
To make a mark on things?
I want to leave an offering
A child of mercy and grace who
blessed your name unapologetically
And leave that kind of legacy

There is something that I know to be so true about my Grandma Johnnie.  She is leaving a great legacy.  Her legacy is going to live on well past her 95 years and probably even past the five generations that were privileged to know her.  She was that kind of a woman.  My sweet husband even said the other day that she was the kind of woman who's story of faith could have been in the Bible. 

Today, though, on the week anniversary of her departure to be with the Lord, I want to take the time to record just some of the ways I want to see her legacy live on in me and in my family.

Her Legacy of Strength

My sweet, little, old great-grandma really was the strongest woman I have ever known.  I could probably count on one hand the amount of times I had ever even seen her cry.  Maybe she was so strong because she had to be from the start.  She was born only 2 lbs.  The doctors told her mama that there was no chance, and yet she out lived almost every one of her siblings. 
Maybe her strength came from all that she lived through.  She lived through the Great Depression and both World Wars.  She was a single, working mom when she was  at an age when most girls are still in college.  She then buried her beloved second husband long before she even really had a chance to "grow old" with him.  She had seen countless other family members go home to be with the Lord way too young. 
But, I am certain that really her strength came from the Lord.  Her gaze was always fixed above.
"For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen.  For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal." -2 Corinthians 4:17-18

Her Legacy of Joy

My Grandma Johnnie was a truly joyful person.  It was rare to see her sad or discouraged.  She always saw the "bright side" of things.  She didn't let little trivial things steal her joy.  For this reason, it was always so fun being around her.  Even if she was having a hard day physically, she was animated.  She was ready to listen and ready to talk.  She would tell her stories and chuckle at the funny parts again.  She loved being around the little kids.  Even though towards the end of her life, it was hard for her to have the stamina to keep up with everyone, so loved to just sit in a seat and watch all the littles play with one another.  She loved the laughter and the fun and the excitement.  She wasn't about to miss out on anything just because she couldn't physically partake in it!
I tend to be a "half-empty" kind of gal.  I don't mean to be pessimistic, but I do have a tendency to be that way if I am not careful.  I want to learn from her legacy to really not "sweat the small stuff" and just rejoice in the moment.

Her Legacy of Cooking/Hospitality

Grandma Johnnie may have spent the last part of her life in the mid-west, but she was a southern girl at heart.  She knew her way around the kitchen better than any Master Chef I have ever met.  Any person stepping foot through her door better be prepared to eat or drink something because there was no way she was letting you leave on an empty stomach.
Sure there are a lot of great cooks out there.  But, there was something different about her food.  Sure she knew her seasonings and none of her food ever needed a little more salt or pepper.  It was always spot on.  But, it was more than that.  Her food really was laced with so much love.  Really and truly, every person that tried her food would finish by saying, "That was the best....I have ever had!"  She was that good.  I mean she did even tell us about Elvis Presley coming into her family's restaurant back before he got crazy famous.
She went out of her way, even up into her last months of life, to cook great food for those she loved.  It brought her such joy, and I want to continue that legacy through my cooking too.  I want family, friends, and strangers alike to walk into my home expecting nothing but leaving with a tummy full of a food and a heart full of blessing.

Her Legacy of Prayer

She was a prayer warrior.  When she told you she would pray for you, she meant it.  So many times people say, "Oh I will pray for that." or "Oh I will be sure to pray for you."  But, then they go home and they forget.  Sure they may have had great intentions, but the truth is they get busy and they don't end up praying as they promised.  Not Grandma Johnnie.
She was a woman who was praying all day, every day.  I once told her that sometimes it was hard for me to get back to sleep after I would have to wake up with one of the kids during the night.  She told me in no uncertain terms that I shouldn't lament the lack of sleep but should instead use that time to pray.  She reminded me that that there was nothing like the quite of the night to lift up the ones I love and the sick and the hurting.  I am certain that she spent many a night laying awake in her bed, crying out to the Father on behalf of so many.
It gave me such comfort in my ministry and in my life as a missionary so far away from home, knowing that my grandma was praying for me and interceding on my behalf.

Her Legacy of Acceptance

Please don't try to be anything other than yourself in her presence because if you do, she will call you out on it.  Grandma Johnnie didn't have the patience for people pretending to be something they weren't.  She wanted you to be yourself, and she accepted you just as you were too.  Sure she may tell you all the reasons why you are making a big mistake or are doing something wrong, but she didn't try to change you.  She loved you right where you were today.
This is something that I find lacking in many Christians today.  We are so quick to judge and find fault, but we are slow to love and embrace.  My Grandma didn't accept sin.  She didn't pretend something was okay if it wasn't.  But, at the same time, she didn't try to change you.  She instead chose to love you and embrace you. In this way, especially, I saw so much of Jesus in her. 

Her Legacy of Faith

I am certain that Johnnie is dancing and singing and just so, so happy and joyful in the presence of her Lord.  She waited 95 years for it.  Jesus wasn't just some guy that she prayed a prayer one day and invited into her heart.  He was her Lord.  He was her Savior.  He was her friend.  He was her Counselor.  He was her Husband.  He was her Teacher.  He was her Joy. He was her Everything.  She loved Jesus with all of her heart.  She believed all of His Word to be true, and it was her bread and water always. 
Grandma Johnnie loved us.  Oh how she loved us.  But, she loved Jesus more.  And in that way, she loved us better.

I know God was so pleased with her. He blessed that once 2 lb little baby with 95 years and with 2 beautiful daughters, 10 grandchildren, 17 great-grandchildren, and 16 great-great children. I am certain that God praised her and said those beautiful words we all long to hear someday, "Well done my good and faithful servant."

I pray that her legacy will live on in me.  May I learn from her example.  May I walk in her shoes.  I am certain they are still far to big for my feet, but I sure will try.

My heart grieves for the loss of this mighty, mighty woman.  But, I know that I am one of the most privileged girls in the world for having known and loved her as I did.  


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Some bits and bobbits about this blog...

This blog is mostly just ramblings by yours truly. I talk about my ups and downs being a wife, mother, and missionary in Guatemala. I have a tendency to get off on "soapboxes" as those who love me say but it is my desire that this blog can be a place of encouragement in each of your pilgrimages with Christ. At any moment if this blog becomes more about me than about Christ, than it will be done and over...so please help me stay accountable. To God be all the Glory, Honor, and Power!

Books I am currently reading...

  • Eight Twenty Eight
  • Interrupted
  • The Connected Child
  • This Momentary Marriage
  • Unbroken

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