How many of you remember when you learned to whistle? I remember what seemed like weeks of demonstration and practice at my Grams’ table. Then one day while she read her Bible and Sunday School book and I ate my breakfast, it happened. It was Grams who taught me how to whistle, and what a wonderful tool it has been as I have faced both joy and sorrow.
Though I did not realize it then, the fact that Grams could whistle a happy little tune after loosing one husband to friendly fire in Korea and another husband as well as her mother to cancer, demonstrated to me in whom she trusted. My Grams more than anyone else instilled into me the joy and faith in Jesus Christ as the one who will shepherd me through the tough times of life.
How did Grams do that? She showed me how to acknowledge Christ in all the areas of my life so that He could direct my paths. In my fondest memories of Grams as a child I am sitting with her on Sunday night saying my night prayers, or studying my Sunday School lesson with her as I ate my breakfast. I remember her helping us to get motivated to remember Bible verses by giving us a dollar a verse. She would only take “Jesus Wept” once! I also treasure the way Grams taught me not to be afraid of writing in my Bible. She wrote in her Bible any time she saw or found something that would help her as she faced what came in her life.
Which brings to mind all the joy and laughter Grams brought to everyone around her. Just by talking to us about what she had on her mind concerning our lives she brought to us her joy. Especially from her bedside phone she kept up with all of her friends, family, and loved ones. She talked and laughed and filled our ears with the most unique voice messages and quotes and stories that helped to shape our lives. When I visited we would sit on her bed, talk, sing, laugh, quote verses, and tell old stories while enjoying one another. Singing the old hymns and quoting Bible verses mixed with all the stories and discussion allowed me to understand just how much faith should impact life.
Grams always let us know that she was a beloved only child. Maybe being the only child taught her to love to have her house full. She never met a stranger, and wanted to give to everyone unconditionally. Grams asked every time I came home if I needed some money to go and order from Hearts. We ordered for everybody so I could have a hamburger steak. I cannot tell you how many times we gathered up the order from everyone present, went to get it, and then sat to eat around her dining room table. It was at that table, because she loved us to be there with her to share most every family meal. By knowing and loving Grams I was prepared to love another only child, my wife, Caroline.
Caroline would want me to share how when she first became a part of our family it was Grams who welcomed her into the fold. On one of our first trips to the beach as a couple, we were getting shoes. All the grandsons came out with shoes that she had bought us and Caroline had none. Grams told her to go back in and get her a pair as well. Just as a note, Grams and I loved the Elvis Christmas album and her favorite on it was “Why Can’t Ever Day Be Like Christmas?” With her generosity Grams made sure that every Day did feel like Christmas.
Speaking of Christmas, Grams was the one who taught us to give to the Lottie Moon Offering for missionaries. She told us the story of Lottie Moon’s life with tears in her eyes. I can hear her tell how Lottie loved Jesus enough to give away all her food so others could live and hear about Christ. She told the story about Lottie Moon so passionately that I thought Grams actually knew Lottie Moon! Which brings me to the part of my life that I can most attribute to my Grams.
Grams took joy in buying me a suit so that I could “look like a preacher”. Even though it was the suit that she bought me, it was her life that taught me how to really “look like a preacher”. She taught me to trust Jesus by whistling. She taught me to read and apply God’s Word to life by mixing her faith into all our conversations. She taught me to love others and welcome them into my life with her generosity. Grams prepared me to inspire upset church members by telling a story with passion.
Even though I do tell about Lottie Moon, let me tell you about another story I remember best from the way Grams told it. It begins with a question. Are you a Mary or a Martha? Martha was serving and asked Jesus to tell her sister Mary to get up and help. Instead Jesus said for Martha to take notes from Mary whose focus was not on being worried with work but on just enjoying time with Jesus. Are you a Mary or a Martha? This is an account every pastor needs to know and quote!
Grams taught me through simple things to trust Jesus. The first time a tornado watch happened while I was at her house, I got very scared. She counseled me to repeat Psalm 56:3 and trust Christ enough to know that he would protect me even if the storm came. Grams, you prepared me for many storms, and I am ready to whistle my way through them because you taught me to trust Jesus. I love you and thank God for you Grams!