When you think of a grandma probably think of lady baking up a storm in the kitchen, sharing secret family recipes, maybe canning fresh food from the garden or quilting marvelous blankets you can pass down to your children. Well, this was not exactly my experience. One of my grandmas had a stroke when I was very young, and I only knew her personality post-stroke. My mom tells me she was a brilliant and strong woman. I knew her as witty, funny, sarcastic, and sometimes socially inappropriate Grandma Jean. I loved spending time with her because she was so much fun! With my other grandma, I learned the proper way to set a formal table and arrange guests for a dinner, to properly organizing your clothing and jewelry, but she could also destroy me in Words with Friends.
My relationships with my grandmothers were probably not what most experience, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. They were both college graduates in a time when that was uncommon. Both were strong, intelligent women who were passionate about teaching. They both loved me fiercely. The one thing that I never really appreciated until after they passed on, was the fact that I always knew they were praying for me. Everyday. Sometimes more than that. My grandma Joy called my sister and me frequently to ask how she could be praying for us. My Grandma Jean was pretty limited after her strokes, but even she had a prayer list on her kitchen table (a mile long) that I was always on, and she told me she prayed for me every day. No, they didn’t pass down any baking or sewing skills, but they passed on their strong faith in Jesus Christ by being excellent examples of strong God-fearing women.
In the New Testament, there are really only a handful of women mentioned by name, but it actually mentions a Godly mother and grandmother. Paul says in his letter to Timothy, ” I am reminded of your sincere faith which first lived in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded now lives in you.” (2 Timothy 1:5) Now, don’t hear me say if your grandma was a devout Christian that it somehow carries on to you and makes you a Christian. Each person has to make a personal decision to accept Christ as Lord and savior of their life to be saved. But how awesome is it that Timothy’s mother and grandmother were such strong women of faith that Paul mentions them by name and we know who they are so many years later?
My grandmothers have since gone to heaven, but God has blessed with two wonderful grandmothers-in-law that love me as their own. Jordan’s granny is the portrait of everything I picture when I think of the word granny. She is amazing at sewing, baking, cooking, gardening, and canning. She is everything I want to be when I grow up. She knows when to hold her tongue and when to speak up gracefully. Both traits I am lacking! But the character trait of hers and my grandmothers that I am striving for the most is their rock-solid prayer lives. I have said it before, but my goal for this time of my life is to go from a worrier to a prayer warrior, like so many of the women in my family.
On top of all of these other wonderful things she is known for, Granny is also known for her gift with greeting cards. She has a card for everyone in the family and for every occasion; birthdays, holidays, and anniversaries. She always handpicks the perfect card for every person, and she underlines the words she thinks are most meaningful for emphasis. I have been the recipient of many granny cards, but she recently gave me a card that nearly took my breath away.
The weekend we found out I had cancer, Jordan’s brother and his wife were down from Illinois, and we were having a birthday party for their son Wes and our daughter Ryanne, who were born only 16 days apart. We ended up canceling the party and just having a small family gathering with cupcakes at Granny and Pap’s house. (I ruined 4 different birthday celebrations that weekend including my own. Talk about being a party pooper!) Granny took me aside after dessert and gave me a card that I didn’t open until we got home. The card had a quote from Rick Warren’s book, The Purpose Driven Life. It read:
“In every circumstance, God is working on our behalf. His heart is moved with compassion; his purpose is guided by love, his ways are paved with grace. We can rejoice even in the tough times because we have hope and because we know that God is working in our lives.
You are part of a perfect plan designed by a God who loves you completely. You’re in his thought every moment–and they’re filled with the desire to bless you.
Jordan’s mom came over the next night and asked if I got granny’s card. I had actually put it on our refrigerator because I liked it so much. This is a miracle itself because I am the opposite of a pack rat: I hate clutter, and I throw everything away. I am not very sentimental with physical things. I have no paraphernalia from Jordan and my wedding, much less any of our dating history. When we moved from our old house, I found my wedding dress in the back of our garage under the lawn mower! Clutter gives me anxiety, so most cards I get go into a drawer before I trash it on my next clutter attack purge. I absolutely love getting cards, and it is wonderful to know that people are praying for me, but I usually don’t feel the need to keep them…except this one. His mom went on to tell me the story of Granny’s card.
Granny keeps all of her cards together and has had this particular card for what she is guessing 10-15 years. She told me she doesn’t usually buy a card unless she has a person in mind (except this one) and she doesn’t give a card to a person unless she thinks it fits them perfectly. So time after time, she has gone to her cards and prayed, and when she pulled out this particular card for someone, she could feel God telling her, “No, this card isn’t for them.” So for 10-15 years, she has been praying for the person who would receive this card.
So that Saturday, Granny went to pull a birthday card out for Wes, and she saw this card. She said God laid it on her heart that this card had been meant for Jordan and me all along. How amazing is that? Jordan’s granny, one of the strongest prayer warriors I know, had been praying over this card and the person who would receive it for the last decade! She had been praying over our current situation for so many years without even knowing it. At this point, we were only 2 days into this journey and had no idea what my prognosis was. Knowing that she had been praying for us, for this time in our life, before Jordan and I had even started dating was staggering. Knowing that I was being front-loaded with prayers even before I knew I needed them was overwhelming. Knowing that God’s plan is so intricate, I can’t even begin to try and understand how he is orchestrating every aspect of our lives. The thought of it gives goosebumps, and I can be a pretty hard person to impress sometimes.
James 5:13-16 says, “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call on the elders of the church and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the LORD. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the LORD will raise him up… the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”
My Bible commentary says “the energetic, passionate prayers of godly people have the power to accomplish much.” I can’t think of many people more passionate about Christ or more Godly than Granny; so how lucky am I that she is praying to Christ Jesus on my behalf! I took her aside and told her that I knew that my grandmothers prayed for me every day and with them now gone, I needed her to pray for myself, Jordan, and our family every day. She said she would pray “constantly.”
I don’t know how people experience things like this and choose to believe that there is no God or God sits in heaven unconcerned with our daily affairs. I firmly believe he didn’t just create the world just to wash his hands of us and watch us fumble. I truly believe he is invested and concerned about our everyday life and our problems no matter how big or small. Psalm 139 says,
“You have searched me LORD, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You perceive my going out and my lying down; you’re familiar with all my ways…where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there. If I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea even there your hand will guide me; your right hand will hold me fast.”
These verses make it clear that he has his hand in every part of our lives. Even in the tiny, mundane decisions, such as buying a greeting card. God put it on Granny’s heart to buy that card so many years ago and again to pray for the recipient of that card. He is all-powerful, all-knowing, and in complete control over every detail of my life. Over and over again during this journey, God has shown he is working in even the smallest details of my life. Granny’s card is just one more piece of proof.