When (my uncle) asked me to write something about what I learned from Grandma or what she meant to me, I wondered what to write. Should I tell about how she taught me to make her famous chocolate cake, measuring the cocoa so that it was heaped just the right amount in the tablespoon? Or about how I used to love spending the night with her as a kid because we got to have all the candy we wanted, stay up late, and eat chicken noodle soup for lunch? Should I tell about my memories of eating freshly picked blueberries off the bushes in her backyard until my stomach hurt? Or of sitting in her living room stringing beans with her and most of the family helping? Maybe I should tell how her involvement in missions, though she never moved away from these mountains, was one of the influences that led me to follow God’s call to China. Whether big or small, all of these are pieces of her story that have helped to write mine, and I am so very grateful for them. But they are not want I really want to tell.
When I was pregnant with my third child, I wanted more than I even realized to have a girl, and when we found out we were having yet another boy, I was a bit disappointed. How does anyone raise three boys? Then I remembered (I don’t know how I had forgotten) that Grandma did it. Grandma, who had wanted so much to have just one girl and was thrilled when I was finally born into the family, raised three boys and raised them well.
When I asked her how she did it, how she managed to raise three boys who turned out so well and even liked each other, she said, “Well, I guess I just did it.” In this age, when motherhood is such a complicated business, and everyone is telling you the perfect method for childrearing and insisting that you buy their book or take their class or follow their method, my Grandma’s wisdom is the only advice that has really stuck with me. She just did it. She got up every morning and made the meals and mended the clothes and disciplined when needed and didn’t worry too much about self-esteem or cognitive development or anything else. In fact, the only thing she ever told me that she was sure to teach her boys was that church was not optional.
I know that Grandma was able to do what she did because she loved Jesus, and she showed her love for Him and for the people around her by meeting practical needs. Even her most treasured gifts to us were made for the most practical of reasons, to keep us warm. Those beautiful quilts she made for all of her children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren are pieces of art, but they are not meant to hang on walls. When I tuck my three boys under them at night and crawl under one myself, I remember Grandma’s love for us and her acts of service that allowed her to do more for the Kingdom of God than she might have expected. I am reminded just to finish the next task that God places before me, to care for those He has put around me, to keep our family close and Jesus at the center. Hopefully one day I’ll be able to look back and see three godly sons, loving daughters-in-law, and grandchildren and great-grandchildren who love Jesus and their families. Because in all of those years of just doing the next practical thing, those are the works of art Grandma created, more beautiful than any quilt.