Questions For Grace

Questions for Grace

I’ve added a new page at the top titled, Questions for Grace. I invite you to bring any questions you have regarding her story, advice or thoughts.  Life speeds by so fast we rarely have the time to sit and talk with our elders about things which matter most. How I wish I had done this with Grace while she was still alive, but I was only 19.

Who in your life could answer questions about your family’s history? Even if you’re not interested now, you probably will be some day. Don’t neglect the opportunity you have today to sit and chat about the past. There is great wisdom to glean from our elders, but they won’t share it with us unless we ask them good questions. Maybe your elders are all gone, and you’ve no one left to ask. Well, make sure you leave answers for those coming behind you. Use the questions provided at the back of my book to write in your own journal your story. There could be no greater gift than this.

What questions would you ask Grace today?

New Memories and Fresh Mercy

Tom took me away for the month of October to see something I’ve never been able to see before…we watched the leaves turn from dark green to various hues of red, orange and yellow in the mountains of North Georgia. It was a magnificent display of God’s glory in creation.

While we were there we had two full moons, a meteor shower, a visit from hundreds of ladybugs who swarm this time of year, visits from family a friends for a few days here and there, visits from all kinds of birds including a brown hawk who swooped on our deck, great food, lively farmers markets, crowded flea markets, three winery tours, cool picnics and  a hikes to a waterfall and mountain peaks and the outer remnants of a massive storm, Sandy. It was a perfect time away where we marveled at the gift God has given us in each other and in Himself.

The changing seasons are always refreshing when they first arrive, aren’t they? We long for the cooler temps of fall after a long, hot summer. We pray for snow in December to make our Christmas feel more Christmassy. We watch for the first buds of spring telling us the winter has passed at last. And then, when Memorial Day arrives we celebrate the time for barbecues and pool parties. But in the middle of a season it is easy to grow discontent. We no longer appreciate the newness of the season, but long for what we don’t have.

Let’s ask God to help us be grateful for our current season of life. He wants us to discover new mercies each day, not just when passing from one season to the next.

In what ways is God helping you appreciate TODAY?

 

From My Journal

From time to time, I’m going to share with you some of my personal journey as I record in my journal. My hope is that this will help you as God is helping me, and that it might encourage you to start journaling your own thoughts and prayers.

Journal entry from October 15th:

My Bible verse for today is Deuteronomy 7:7-8 ESV:

“It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set His love on you, but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that He swore to your fathers.”

Thank you, Father, for Your faithfulness to keep Your promises. You promise and You never forget. We benefit from the promise You made to Abraham thousands of years ago. I’m sure I’m benefitting from promises You  made to my grandmother–Grace Stella–and my great-grandfather–“Uncle Bud” Oswalt. Thank You.

Thank You for choosing to place Your love on me and on my children. I believe and pray my grandchildren will grow to love You as well. Set Your seal upon their heart, Lord. May they learn of Your grace at an early age. I love You and can’t imagine my life apart from Your love. Thank You that I will never know.

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Do you keep a journal? If so, what is God currently saying to you? If not, have you considered the blessing this would be for your family in the years to come?

All I Can Say Is…Wow!

Stella Grace at 4 months

This week I am more and more aware of God’s kindness to have brought me this far in the writing process. I have heard from dozens of people as they’ve read Through The Eyes Of Grace, and it brings tears to my eyes. Grace’s story is affecting others for good. I have heard moms tell me they are going to have their daughters read my book in hopes of inspiring them to know their own grandparent’s stories. I have had people stop me to tell me their story of regret towards their parents or grandparents who are no longer around to ask. I have even had some tell me of their dream to write a similar story to honor their family legacy.

All I can say is, Wow!

God is taking my little mite and using it for His purposes. If you’ve read my book and found it enjoyable, would you take time to write a review on Amazon about it for me? Your words will help others decide if they would enjoy it as well.

I must say that what I love most is hearing from you. Your words of encouragement are washing away years of disbelief that I could ever accomplish such a feat. Now that I have, the temptation is even greater to discount my work, which I’m sure saddens the Lord who is the One who enabled me to do it in the first place. I want to be quick to give Him the glory for the big picture story of His grace that He weaves into each of our lives.

How has your family impacted your appreciation of God’s grace at work in you?

Teasing Comes Naturally, I’m Afraid

Uncle Billy teasing Norah

Yes, I’m prone to teasing, ask my family. I get it naturally from my brother who is the master! But I’ve learned my brother is a lot like my grandfather who died when I was only 4. I don’t remember much about him, except that he loved his eggs scrambled in a pan with hot sausage served over a bed of grits. And you know what? This is how I like breakfast as well. He also smoked a pipe and would let me help him light it whenever I was around. I still love the scent of pipe tobacco, I guess because it brings back fond childhood memories.

So what does teasing have to do with today’s post? I want to “tease” you with the first half of the Prologue to my soon-to-be published book. I’m hoping it will entice you to want to read more. All good stories have a strong hook–read the following and let me know if I’ve managed to tease you for more! If so, you’ll have to wait another week to read the rest.

Prologue

June 1979

With a nervous exhale I opened the heavy door.  The clock tower struck one, two…fading away as the door closed behind me.  The foyer was dark and smelled of centuries-old stories, never to be told.  A hush followed each group of well-meaning guests as they entered the sanctuary.  I was next.  My hands were clammy; I felt nauseous.  I wasn’t ready to see…her, not in this way.  My eyes were darting back and forth, desperately searching for something when I saw it; right in the middle of the large oak table was a gift wrapped in lavender and lace.  As my eyes adjusted, I noticed my name scribbled on the card; who on earth? I couldn’t believe…

“Miss?” The usher interrupted my questions with his extended arm.  I supposed it was his job to escort me to where the rest of the family were seated.

My knees threatened to buckle under me as we started down the aisle.  How often I had come to this church with Big Mama.  She was a founding member and loved it dearly.  And if she had anything to say about it, I would love it too.

As I passed one pew I expected to see Mr. Pemberton stand and greet me with a butterscotch candy from his white suit pocket.  He always sat in the back, but not today; Mr. Pemberton was long gone, and now Big Mama was too–nothing would be the same.

“Greetings, friends! On behalf of the family of Grace Stella Oswalt, I would like to say thank you for coming to show your respects to such a God-fearing woman.”

I made it to the family pew just in time.  Sniffles sounded in unison as I held my breath trying not to join in.  I knew if I started I wouldn’t be able to stop.  Mama knowingly slipped a handkerchief in my hand as the preacher continued.

“Grace, wife of the late William Marion Oswalt, was the mother of six but is survived only by her daughter, Claire; nine grandchildren and many, many great-grandchildren…”

Six children? I didn’t know Big Mama had six children.  I knew my Uncle Vic and Aunt Ruby.  What happened to the others?

“Please stand as we sing Grace’s favorite hymn on page 56 of your hymnals.”

Amazing Grace how sweet the sound…

What else didn’t I know? For a moment I felt a deep sadness for the stories that would be buried with her.

…I once was lost, but now I’m found.  Was blind, but now I see.

It was true.  Big Mama loved this hymn.  When I was little she would often play it on her piano as I sat next to her on the bench.  Her voice would crack, and I would sing off key, but the words never lost their meaning for her.  When we got to the third verse, she always seemed caught up in another world.

…through many dangers toils and snares.  I have already come.  Twas grace hath brought me safe thus far.  And grace twill lead me home.

Glancing at my watch, I hoped it was almost over.

“The family would like to invite you to join them graveside following this service, and then for dinner in the church social hall,” the pastor announced.

What? Another service and dinner, too? I hadn’t been to many funerals in my nineteen years, and this was the first in our family.  It was as painful as I feared it would be.

My Mom knew what I was thinking without a word.  Heaviness pressed against me; the back door offered my first chance to escape.  I jumped to my feet ready to be the first one out the back, but a tall, sliver of a man appeared.  I was unaware of the tradition–family is always escorted out separately.  He said nothing, only pointed with his opened palm towards the side door.  I had missed my chance and silently followed Mama to a waiting limousine.