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Grandma's God


9-22-2008

As I write this, Jaymun is sitting contentedly on my lap. He spent the night trotting around the house with his delightful inquisitve laugh, his wide eyes, and wild curly hair. He's drinking his bottle now, and snuggling with me. Now he just jumped off to go exploring again ...puppy soon to follow.

What a gift, what sweetness, what beautiful memories.



Memories are powerful things that return when you least expect them. Yesterday morning in church an avalanche of memories was unleashed when I heard this passage of scripture ...memories about my grandmother:
"I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth." Psalm 121:1-2

Some facts about Grandma Kaat:
She lived to be 94 years old. I was with her when she passed several years ago.
She was one of my best friends when I was a little boy. She lived right next door.
She and 15 siblings helped her mother (a widow) run the family farm. Grandma made it through the depression
...Grandpa and she bought their homestead for dollars an acre, and struggled to make the monthly mortgage payments. They raised 10 children while living on a vegetable farm with no running water, electricity, or indoor toilets for most of the time. Grandpa wore himself out working two jobs plus the farm, so it was Grandma who kept everything tied together.

My brothers and I thought we had it rough when we had to pick beans from rows 20 feet long.
When we complained our dad would say: "You boys are fussing about a few mosquitoes? When I was a boy... I had to pick rows 1/4 mile long" Yeah right... however, in this case it was actually true - and I knew where those bean rows had been. I grew up on the very same land where my Grandma towed her children and lunch along as she toiled all day in the field, until Grandpa could come home to pack the produce after work, getting up again at 4:00 AM to make grocery story deliveries before his first job of the next day.

My brothers and I spent our lazy summers playing in those fields, crawling through "tunnels" in the tall hay grass, staining our knees with the wild strawberries. Laying on your back hid the normal world ...you closed your eyes to the hypnotic buzzing of acres of insects ...intoxicated by the smells of summer, the grass, the berries, the heat, the apples from the fenceline tree. If there was enough wind, we'd fly a kite out, and watch it hang in the air a half mile above Grandma's house. Watch her working in her garden. Watch, and wonder whether she had left her back door unhooked so we could sneak some cookies. Grandma made the best cookies.

I remember Grandma could always find a reason to chuckle, to tell a humorous story about someone, to make life real. She was full of memories, had a wall of pictures in her house of all her children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, great-great grandchildren - hundreds of family photos. You could sit on a stool by her counter and listen to Grandma tell funny stories about her family for hours.

Grandma also had a serious side to her, the softness would come into her eyes as she sang her favorite songs,
Psalms from the book ..and her favorite was the paraphrase of Psalm 121:

"To the hills I lift my eyes, whence shall help for me arise?
From the Lord shall come my aid, who the heaven and earth has made..."

I wonder how many times she made it through a tired dusty day, toiling her way down the field with complaining children in the hot sun, only to come home to piles of laundry, a dirty house, cranky husband, and mischevious teenagers? I've heard the stories, and she would be the first to admit that many times she took matters into her own hands with less than storybook results. Grandma would agree she had faults. Grandma wasn't the sort of person to go around posing as a "holy" or "religious" person. But when I heard her sing that song, then I knew where her ultimate hope was. And her Helper wasn't someone to be trifled with. Not a passing fancy, an empty promise, or a weak guard against troubles. There was something that sent tingles down my spine to hear the "old timers" singing hymns and acknowledging to the Almighty His greatness.

What I wouldn't give to go back to those fields, to be a boy again, to spend an afternoon laying in the sun, deep in the tall grass, lost in the clouds. To chase crickets through the roots of the hay while savoring the tiny tangy berries. To ride my bike out in the field so far 'til the houses disappear and I'm alone with the millions of singing insects. To wade in the creek mud, putting tadpoles and crayfish in the same bucket just to watch them chase around. To run so far into the cornfield that you wonder if you will ever find your way out.

But those fields just aren't the same anymore. All my places have been covered with sub-divisions, driveways and cars, houses with pools in the backyards. I'm sure those yards have happy child voices, but I wonder:
Did they cut down the old crooked sour apple tree that we'd feast in until our tummy's ached?
Do those kids know how to check fruit for spots and eat around the wormy parts?
Did they take away the big grass covered hill Mr. Van Stelle left when he made the road - the hill that was just perfect for little boys to climb and snooze on, daydreaming in the summer sun?
If you poke around in the weeds will you still find the wild strawberries hiding amid tiny flower buds?

This world keeps changing.
Our memories fade, our footprints fill over, the wind blows ...and finally the marks we left pass away.

But rising out of those disappearing memories yesterday (Sunday morning), was the vision of my Grandmother sitting at her little organ with her arthritic fingers playing the timeless, fearless tunes.
I can still hear her voice, spanning the centuries, singing confidence in her God:

"..He will guide through dangers all, Will not suffer thee to fall;
He Who safe His people keeps Slumbers not and never sleeps."

Well, Grandma passed along the final danger. And as she passed, we gathered around and sang for her those old songs, even though she was in the final struggle and could not acknowledge us.

...Thy Protector is the Lord, Shade for thee He will afford;
Neither sun nor moon shall smite, God shall guard by day and night.
He will ever keep thy soul, What would harm He will control...

I'd like to think she heard us, and that the quietness that spread over her face was a fortaste of the blessed peace she was entering into. Where she came face to face with the God Who guided her through the years, and Who was her hope and refuge till she finally won the fight. Where she now revels in the majesty, the glory, the angels, in the One Who means everything to her.

What stirred me so yesterday was realizing again that the same everlasting God who guided Grandma on the road through her 94 years and beyond to glory, is the same everlasting God in charge of Jaymun's Journey. We so many times rest primarily on advice, doctors, cures, treatments, etc. and we have stress about the outcome, while all along our real Helper rides on the clouds, is in charge of the universe ...He created and controls every necessary thing.

Since I know the angels watch what God does, and are amazed, I'd like to think that Grandma gets "updates" about what He is doing for her little great-grandson Jaymun. A website or high-speed internet access helps us down here, but are foolishly unneccesary up there. Jesus said the little ones have their own angels with special access to our Father in Heaven.

Grandma was a "pray-er". She prayed for everyone. And unfortunately the hundreds of people (myself included) in her family gave her years of reasons to pray. Now she no longer needs to pray. Now she has direct access. Now she can see with her eyes what by faith she believed all those years. Now her path is finished, while ours stretches out before us.

On which road, His help for Jaymun here is no less certain than the rewards Grandma enjoys now with Him there.
Grandma's God is our God, and the true Champion of Jaymun's Journey.

"...In the home and by the way He will keep you day by day".

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