What Do You Say?

What do you say when you know your words could be the last? Do you choose poignant ones and drop each one like a well-chosen bulb left to grow long after you’ve gone? Or do you carry on as usual and savor one last everyday conversation about your evening plans and the weather?

What do you say?

How do you walk from a room knowing when you see them again it may be on the other side of heaven? Do you walk out waving and crying and shouting “I love you’s”? Or do you leave them with one last touch of the hand and a sigh and exit with your wet eyes straight ahead?

How do you?

I stood next to my grandmother’s bed, reached over the rail, and held her hand. Her long bony fingers felt small in mine. Her skin was like the tissue paper in the top of a gift, thin and wrinkly. I stared at the veins on top of her hand and cried. “Don’t cry for me,” her words broke the silence. No tears had fallen to alert her to my distress and her dimmed eyes couldn’t see my face, but she knew. She always has.

“I’m crying for me, Grandmother,” I told her. “I’m going to miss you.” Just minutes before, she told me she was going to die. “Maybe, tonight,” she said. I couldn’t take it in. Ninety-four was a long life, but when is it ever easy to say good-bye? I stared at her wanting to say so much.

She squeezed my hand and shared, “I’ll be with you all the time. Grandmother will always be looking over you. If you need me, just call and know I’ll be sending you my love.”

I wanted to throw myself across her bed and weep. My pregnant belly, her high bed rail, the monitors she was hooked to, and my dignity kept me from it. “I’m ready to go,” she said. “I’ll just close my eyes and when I open them again, I’ll be face-to-face with Jesus.”

She wasn’t scared, but I was. Scared of the unknown. What will we do without her?

I finally rested in a chair not far away and watched her as she slept. I thought of her many stories of growing up during the depression, how to bake the best chess bars, and tales of my papaw and she when they married. I remembered the time I ran away – to her house, a mere two homes away from mine.

“Just let her stay,” I recalled her telling my mother when she came for me. “She needs some time with Grandmother and Papaw.”

I thought of all the times I’d called her upset, and she filled me with encouragement and wisdom. She has loved and lived with passion. I watched as the nurse came in to check her vitals and wondered if she realized what a living legacy was lying in that bed with white curly hair and wrinkles.

I desperately wanted to tell the nurse, “This isn’t just any ninety-four year old lady. This is…” I wondered how I would finish the sentence. What choice of words would convey exactly how I felt? Which one would accurately describe her life?

What do you say?

I looked up at the nurse, stroked the wrinkled forehead in front of me, and said it the way I knew best, “This is my grandmother.” 

Her children arise and call her blessed. Proverbs 31:28 NIV


Prayer Request for Faith and Wrinkles

Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway.Proverbs 8:34 NIV


UPDATE: This was originally posted on January 19, 2009 in honor of my grandmother’s birthday. I post it again today to ask for your prayers for her. She is in the hospital with fluid on her lungs. Any hospital visit for someone who is 94 can be serious. Please pray for her peace and comfort, but most of all for God’s will to be done in her precious life. Thank you in advance. ~Carol

Slide.  Shuffle.  Slide.  Shuffle.  You always know when my grandmother is coming.  The walker drags across the floor before her, and her feet will follow – slow and steady.  Slow and steady doesn’t just describe her walk; it describes her life.  Frances Chapman King was born January 19, 1915, in the midst of The First World War.  She has seen more in her lifetime than many of us can fathom.  She remembers a time when life was slower.  It had to be.  The recent invention of the automobile hadn’t made it her way.  She traveled by horse and buggy or by foot. 


She grew up in a home that honored the Sabbath.  Her daddy didn’t want a lot of playing and foolishness on Sundays, but “the boys would just slip out to the pasture and play where he couldn’t hear them,” she remembered.  They rode the buggy to church.  Behind the church the horses were tied and given food.  While they ate, sparrows came to share in their good fortune. “Thousands of sparrows would be sitting in the church yard,” Grandmother told me, “And to this day whenever I hear a flock of birds outside, it takes me back to that old country church.”


The Great Depression didn’t seem to touch her family as much as others.  Since they grew most of their own food and didn’t own a car, they weren’t affected by food and gas shortages. Instead, they helped others by selling extra eggs and tomatoes at the grocery store.  Neighbors could buy milk at their house, as well.  Five cents for a quart of buttermilk and ten cents for a quart of sweet milk. 


Grandmother didn’t have electricity or indoor plumbing until after she married.  But to hear her talk about it, it wasn’t a big deal.  She fondly recalls how they got the electricity. The electric company called for people to sign up to get power, but you had to agree to buy something that required power, as well.  Both my grandmother and my great aunt Mary each bought a Frigidaire.


Each wrinkle tells a story, and her soft brown eyes have seen much. Much to laugh about and much to cry about.  And even though her eyesight has left, she can still see.  She sees through each hurting soul that gets near her.  “Tell Grandmother about it,” she’ll say getting right to the heart of the matter.  


God is not done with her, yet.  At ninety-four years, my grandmother still loves God with a passion.  She gets up every day and prays, “Use me, Lord.  Let me be useful to somebody today.”  And He always grants her request.  Whether it’s a grandchild calling for one of her age-old recipes, a person who needs help paying their telephone bill, or another elderly friend who she offers encouragement; God still uses her. Friends, she is not at the end of her life.  With a lot of faith and wrinkles, she is just getting started.


Let me point out, Moses was eighty years old when God asked him to go to Pharaoh and request the release of the Israelites.  Do you think Moses thought he had already fulfilled his plan for the Lord?  He was just getting started. 


How about Noah?  The Bible says, Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God.(Genesis 6:9 NIV)  Noah was walking with God and probably thought he had already lived out God’s plan for him when God called him to build the ark. Noah was six hundred when the floods came!  God didn’t tell him to order a big boat from the local boat builder; he told Noah to build it with his own hands.  Can you imagine a six hundred year old man building a boat?  Talk about arthritis! 


Wherever you are in your life, God can use you – if you are willing.  As a tribute to the faith of a ninety-four year old lover of the Lord, won’t you join me today as we say, “Use me, Lord”?



Climate Control

Something looked out of place under the cast-off comforter on our bedroom floor. As I made the bed, I noticed our fuzzy winter blanket lying on the floor on my husband’s side. A quick glance at the weather station confirmed my thoughts – 92 degrees outside. What would make a man top a sheet and comforter with a fuzzy blanket in the middle of a southern summer? I wondered but immediately knew the answer – a pregnant wife.

The fan above me spun wildly. It was on high. I reached up and turned it down a notch. Okay, so maybe that was a bit much in the airflow department. I could admit it. But being pregnant in the south during the summer ain’t cool. And I do mean that literally.

You may not be pregnant, but you probably control the climate in your home more than you realize. Have you ever uttered words that completely chilled a room? Have you turned up the heat on your spouse when they have unknowingly stepped on your last nerve? Whether you are the husband or the wife, I bet you could answer yes to both. I know I could.

Sometimes without even realizing it, we cause our loved ones to reach for the fuzzy blankets in summer, while they desperately try to create an environment in which they can live comfortably. Stop and ask yourself how well you’ve been controlling the climate in your home. Do you alternate from hot to cold or do you keep things at a relaxed temperature?

Perhaps you, like me, can’t control how you are feeling. Pregnancy makes me hot all the time; your uncontrollable situation may be your job, your children, or your health, just to name a few. Just apologize to your family members and explain what’s causing you to turn up the heat. Sometimes just an explanation can make all the difference.

Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and ill-tempered wife. 
Proverbs 21:19 NIV

Lord, help me to be mindful of how my mood and temperament affect the rest of my family. Show me how to create a contented environment for those I love, even when I’m feeling the heat. May all I say and do be pleasing in your sight. Amen.


Who Touched Me?

5 Minutes for Faith - Daily Devotions for Moms

Are there things on your prayer list that never get crossed off? There are times I pray for things so often that my prayers are out of habit and not out of belief – belief that He hears them and will answer. Have you ever been surprised when God has answered a prayer? I have! Then I wonder about my faith. If I didn’t believe He could answer, then why did I pray in the first place…

Join me today at 5 Minutes for Faith to read the rest of my devotion. Click HERE. This is an oldie but a goodie. It was originally posted in November of 2007, but it is one of my favorites.

Happy Monday!


p.s. If you’ve never read the book I talk about in this devotion – Listening for God by Marilyn Hontz – I highly recommend it. You can check it out with the link on the left side of my blog in the Amazon box.