Thursday, May 28, 2009

Saying goodbye to a lady with quite a legacy

My grandmother passed away this afternoon. Through the course of "life stuff" such as divorces, geography, etc. there were a lot of ways in which I didn't really know her. But there are some incredibly important ways that I did.

To most people she was Fern.
Legally she was Rebecca Fern Blankenship Thorn.
To me she was Mamaw.
She adored my grandfather and has missed him terribly since his passing two years ago.
She and my grandfather had been together for 6 decades!
She gave birth to 9 children and survived the passing of three of them.
She had more grandchildren than I can remember (and it took her some time to remember when asked.)
She would cook 5 meals (and I mean meals) a day for her family.
She had a beautiful smile.
She was a pretty fiesty lady.
By actions she made it known that God and her family were vitally important to her.

And there were at least a couple of lessons I've learned better from her than from anyone else.

She taught me what true generosity is. In spite of facing the struggles of life in a rural coal mining town, and in spite of the size of our family, she would send gifts on more holidays than many people do. She remembered birthdays, Christmas, Easter and even Valentines day by sending gifts and money orders. She's the only one I know who still used money orders on a regular basis. I was always so humbled that she would find a way to send me and my husband and my children all of these gifts.

She and Papaw also were a vehicle God used recently to teach me unconditional and unwavering love. In spite of our distance and irregular contact, they both always greeted me with the most sincere "Hey Honey! I love you! How are you doing?" whether by phone or in person. And each conversation would pick up as if I'd been there all along. The last time I saw them it didn't matter how long it had been since I'd seen them last they both greeted me, held me and looked me in the eye affirming my place in our family and in their hearts as if we'd been together every day of the last several years. That last meeting gave me a small glimpse of how the prodigal son must have felt being held by his father upon his return.

Mamaw leaves an unbelievable legacy of family and friends who know of her love for God and her family. Who have all learned lessons from her as I have.

I hope that I too leave a legacy that will make her proud.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

My favorite story

I've read the story of the woman with the bleeding disorder hundreds of times now probably. It is clearly my favorite story of Jesus performing a miracle. This morning as I read it, I liked what the Message says , "Daughter, you took a risk of faith, and now you’re healed and whole. Live well, live blessed! Be healed of your plague.”

Recently, after hearing a couple of teachings, I'm struck by the significance of a couple of things in this story. First, I'm struck by the significance of her touching Him in this crowd. Second, I'm struck by the significance of Him speaking to her in this crowd.

Women in that day and culture were so disregarded. But not by Christ. And women with bleeding disorders were considered lower than the lowest because that meant they were "unclean". She was probably not even supposed to be out in public much less "jostling" through a crowd. She stood a great chance of being publicly shamed. But not by Christ.

Wow! The results she gained from taking that risk!

She got to speak with Jesus!
He spoke a blessing over her in front of the entire crowd!
and she was healed.

He spoke a blessing over her in front of the entire crowd!

How very cool is that!

"Live well, and live blessed!" and *then* He says "Be healed of your plague." Of course, they both knew she already was, but the way it is stated here almost suggests that the healing is almost just a bonus. That the real benefit was His blessing to her to live well and live blessed.

There's been a lot of focus recently on the role of women in leadership in the church. This conversation always gets my attention because I have felt, since high school, that God put a call on my life to be involved in arts in the local church, and for now that calling is to lead arts in my local church. And while for many, that alone is a large risk of faith, I have been very blessed with a church who sees women the way Christ did and involves them in every level of leadership.

So, for me and those of you like me in similar roles, I wonder, reading this, what risks of faith have I taken recently? And where I haven't what blessings am I missing out on?

How about you?