My precious grandmother turned 90 years young this week. My family gathered at her quaint country church to celebrate her, and remember all the blessings she has spread across our lives.
I was so blessed to see her with dear friends. Some of them well into their 90's and they wouldn't have missed her celebration for all the tea in China. Sweet 96 year old Viola told me, "Honey, I have been saving up so I could be here!" By saving up she meant napping for energy!
As I was watching her with her beloved group of "seasoned southern sisters" I remembered her words to me early in my marriage. "Honey, you need some Jesus friends. Friends that will pray for you and carry you through and that love the Father. I will be praying for those friends for you."
The Lord is near to all them that call on him, to all that call on him in truth.
Well I knew she was right but I was a newly married "22 year old baby" and had no idea the wisdom she had just spoken over me.
These "Jesus friends" she began to pray for would be, and still are life lines for me. Oh how they would carry me in the years to come. Of all the things my adoring grandmother has blessed me with, her prayers are the things that have changed my life the most.
So this is kind of how it went. I had a group of social friends that I just had a ton of fun with. We were all in our mid twenties, newly married and busy starting our lives as wives and mothers.
Out of this group God began to knit together a group of friends that would move beyond Bunco and tennis, and would slowly begin to chase after his wisdom and grace.
None of us knew the things we would face together. Health scares, HARD times in our new marriages, infertility, sick children, addictions, aging grandparents and parents, losing loved ones...the list goes on and on. My wise old Mamie knew it though. See had lived through the great depression, sent her husband, son, nephews and brothers off to wars, buried two brothers AND her husband and spent the majority of her life as a single mother. She knew the HOPE that only God could give and her prayers were hemming me in with beautiful friends in the Lord.
As I look at the faces on this page, I get a big 'ol lump in my throat thinking about how many floors they walked, tears they cried and requests they made before the Lord. The thing that always gets me though is before my Mamie started praying, we were all up on the surface of life. Decorating, cooking, shopping. All the things that girls love to do. Now don't get me wrong! There is nothing wrong with surface dwelling. Sometimes that might be all that keeps you from running crazy in the woods. Sometimes life is REALLY HARD and talking about Lilly Pulitzer, red currant candles, smocked dresses and gardening is therapy! That part of our friendships never went away. God just knocked a big peep hole in all of that, and allowed us to see a place in our friendship, that he was giving us that would grow us all to be more like him.
So fast forward 14 years later when God opened the door for us to leave Georgia, move to Texas and leave these beautiful friends behind, I thought my heart would actually break. I literally had to tell myself everyday, "I will walk by faith, even when I cannot see."
By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.
I had seen and tasted God's goodness and provisions and I knew my Mamie had prayed everyday for those Jesus friends, but I felt in my heart that this was it. I had used up all of God's goodness towards me because he had blessed me so abundantly. I decided when we were hauling it towards the Lone Star state that I would be resolved to friendship through Facetime and I would be lonely and pitiful. Oh I was a pathetic hot mess! Just writing those words makes me giggle at how I thought I could actually use up all that God wants to bestow upon his children!
After I had my pity party (it was not pretty), I began to slowly look for God's blessings and reached down deep with all my courage and drew out what Mamie had taught me. The prayer for Jesus friends. See I knew she was STILL praying, but now I knew it was time to put on my "Texas size" big girl panties and get to praying for myself. I honestly have a vision of God just getting a big grin when he heard me say, "I am ready to see what you have in store for us here."
We lived 3 years in Texas and those years truly blessed me. You see we had no family there so our friends became family to us. They loved on us in ways that I still can't find words for. God gave me some of the most precious Jesus friends I would ever know in those short 3 years, and they have changed my life forever.
And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
2 Corinthians 9:8
This picture sums it all up. This is right before we left Texas, moving back east to be closer to family.
See those sweet, amazing women praying for me? Is our God beyond anything that we can ever describe?!? He loves us all outside the lines and his desires for our happiness will just bless our socks off sometimes.
So my sweet Mamie...she's spent a lifetime praying for her family.
She was with me when I accepted his invitation and she's been with through 4 decades of Jesus friends. She has modeled lots of things for me and has been steadfast in her love for me. This week when we celebrated her it was about so much more than a milestone. It was a legacy. She has hand delivered to all 7 of her grandchildren a hope in him that is grounded in obedience, and a personal relationship with him. She has passed the torch to us and it's our turn to pick up the mantle. I am honored to pray for Jesus friends for my girls and my nieces and nephews and I can't wait to see how the Lord will show up and show off in their lives. Thank you Mamie for teaching me well and loving me so.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.
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