Monday, April 28, 2014

Matters of the Heart


My Grandpa was a tall, gentle, quiet man with a great sense of humor and a deep love for God. I didn't realize the effect he had on me spiritually, until after he was gone. After he passed away and I was preparing to sing for his memorial service, I was thinking about all he meant to me personally and how much his life exemplified Christ.

You see, my Grandpa's actions spoke much louder than words. He was a man of few words, but his actions have impacted my life in numerous ways. When we stayed at Grandpa and Grandma's house, right after breakfast each morning, he would pull out his Bible and begin to read to us. It was a sacred time and one I have cherished memories of. After he read the Bible to us, he would pray. He prayed for the neighbors, the relatives in our lives, friends, and acquaintances. He thanked God for His provision and He thanked God for us, his grandchildren and prayed that we would stay close to Jesus. At some point during each visit my Grandpa would find a moment to ask me how I was "really" doing and if I shared a struggle or concern with him, his gentle eyes showed that he cared and he would then remind me to apply Proverbs 3:5,6. He would shake the hands of each one of us grandkids at the end of each visit, look us in the eye, ask us how we were doing and then say "well, just remember Proverbs 3:5,6 " Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." When he let go of my hand, I would find a crisp dollar bill in it every time. I don't know about the rest of the grandkids, but as much as I loved those dollar bills, I think I treasured knowing my Grandpa cared and prayed for me even more and because of his consistent reminder to trust in the Lord, Proverbs 3:5,6 has been hidden deep in my heart and has been something I have applied throughout the many confusing challenges I have faced along the way.

This has been by far, the best advice ever given to me. It has stuck with me through each decision in life and throughout each day. It has been the best navigational tool and has aided in keeping things in perspective during troubled waters.

Grandpa and Grandma always took us to church when we visited. Grandma loved to be in the nursery taking care of the babies and children and I remember her sweet, soprano voice singing the hymns during the service. I also remember Grandpa planting himself at the front door of the church as the unofficial greeter. He made sure that he met and greeted every new face and welcomed them warmly. My grandparents practiced the art of hospitality and I'm pretty sure every single person that ever visited their church received an invitation into their home for a meal.....and boy could my Grandma cook!

Some of my earliest memories are of helping my Grandma in the kitchen. I have treasured memories of learning how to make a perfect pie crust from scratch, setting the table, rolling out biscuit dough, baking cookies, stuffing a turkey, and the list goes on. We laughed and talked and sang while we worked and Grandma was always patient and kind and loving as she taught us. This developed a love for the culinary arts and the desire to practice hospitality in my young heart.

My grandparents have been gone for over twenty years now and there isn't a day that goes by, that I don't miss them. I am grateful for the godly heritage they passed down to the future generations and I'm blessed to have such warm, loving memories of time spent with them in their home as well as all the times they visited us in ours. I still remember the excitement in our home when we knew they were coming up for a visit. Four little kids would be lined up on our knees with our elbows planted on the back of the couch, looking out the big picture window in our living room where we would watch for their car to pull into the driveway. As soon as we saw their car, we jumped off the couch and ran outside to greet them as fast as our legs could carry us. Mom and Dad pretty much had to pull us off of them and shoo us away for a while so they could get a word in edgewise. Their trunk was always full of pies, cookies, dinner rolls....whatever Grandma could fit in there alongside their suitcases and pillows and we kids couldn't wait to sample some of Grandma's good baking!

I wrote a song for my Grandpa's memorial service and I sang it that day. I can't believe my voice didn't crack and I made it through. As I was writing the words and the memories were flowing, I started thinking about my own life. What kind of memories will my kids and grandkids have of me? What do I want my life to exemplify? At that moment, I realized that I needed to be intentional about my choices and how I treat people. I realized that the only memories worth leaving behind for my family and friends are the memories of someone who really loved God and that is enough.  If I really love God it will be evident in the way I love others and this is the prayer of my heart....that others will feel loved and cared about when they are with me. That I will seek to understand them more than I seek to be understood. That I will love them sacrificially and unconditionally as God loves. My grandparents weren't perfect people, but one thing I know....their faith was real and strong and deep and it showed.

When Grandpa and Grandma said good bye to us after we visited their home, Grandma always came running out with the camera for a picture of us all standing out in the front yard together. When we hugged them good-bye, Grandpa always looked us in the eye and said "Stay close to Jesus" and then they stood in the doorway waving at us until our car was out of sight.

Grandpa's Song

He always said stay close to Jesus. He always stayed close to the Lord. Well now he's with Jesus forever and pain he will suffer no more.

Chorus: My Grandpa I'll miss you always, but my sadness is only for me. I thank my heavenly Father that someday with you I will be in eternity.

A strong man he was yet so gentle. He taught me the way of the Lord. He taught me to pray to him daily and to always depend on his word. (Chorus)

He said trust in the Lord with all of your heart. Don't lean on your own understanding. In all of your ways acknowledge him and he shall direct your path. (Chorus)


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