What Made Her Sparkle

My great-grandma was a woman of summer. She kept a garden and her table overflowed with its bounty. She picked berries for jam and to top ice cream. Once in a while, I helped her in the berry patch or the garden and it always shocked me when she showed up in pants. The garden was the only place I ever saw her dressed that way and even there she wore a dress over them, with a long-sleeved shirt and a wide-brimmed straw hat. She was dressed to work.

Right there are four important lessons I could have learned from my Grandma E.B.: Wear appropriate clothing. Protect your skin. Shade your eyes. And, of course, how to garden.

I should have paid more attention.

She was teaching all the time. She just wasn’t obvious about it. Maybe she wasn’t even aware.

Grandma E.B. knew how to respond to her circumstances. In the garden, she wore pants. In the face of a deer standing in the yard looking like dinner, she became the hunter. After an unexpected move, she looked to Jesus.

She’d moved before, first with her husband from the river valley to a rural acreage; and then alone from the acreage to a tidy mobile home on my grandma and grandpa’s farm. Eventually, it was just her and my grandma alone in the country. When Great Grandma’s health failed she moved again, this time to a nursing home.

Her sorrow hung in the room as we stood with awkward smiles and tried to make conversation while she arranged her few belongings on top of a dresser. She’d been there only a day or two and it was through a set jaw that she mumbled something about trying to make the best of it. I knew she wanted to. She wanted to even in the midst of her mourning.

Before long, she noticed the people around her and she realized that some of them might not know Jesus. That was all it took. She got up, left her room, and went out to where the people were.

Life in the nursing home gave Grandma E.B. something that she’d never had, something none of us expected: freedom. She’d never driven; she relied on her husband, and later my grandma, to take her where she wanted to go. In the nursing home, she needed neither car nor chauffeur. She had shoes and a Bible, and that’s all she needed to carry out her purpose in that new place and new season.

Her favorite hymn was “Trust and Obey” and that is how she learned to live an unfamiliar life. She trusted. And she obeyed. It was enough. She was free to be happy, not in her circumstances but in Jesus.

My husband and I have lived in four different cities, which is exactly three more than I imagined we would. Each move was unexpected. While some have been like coming home, others were a step into an unfamiliar life.

Grandma E.B.’s quiet lesson on how to live with trust and obedience is one I should have paid attention to long ago. It’s one I need every day.

Not long after her move, Grandma made a small change to her simple wardrobe: She began to wear bead necklaces. I noticed, immediately, but never asked why. It seemed simple enough: They were pretty and she liked pretty things. They were more than that, though. They were a badge of contentment and that made them—and her—beautiful.

Though the direction of her life’s road led away from her garden and her home, she found freedom to thrive, not in her circumstances but in Jesus. And that, like the lovely necklaces which graced her neck, made her sparkle.

And you? What quiet lessons have the women in your life lived out? We’re living lessons, too. What lessons are you living out today?

Sharing What Made Her Sparkle at Chronicles of GraceCoffee for Your Heart, The weekend Brew, and #TellHisStory.

26 thoughts on “What Made Her Sparkle

  1. Cathy says:

    Such beautiful lessons she taught with her life. The last step to the nursing home is the toughest. We had to put both of my inlaws in the nursing home one month apart. Such awsome lesson they both taught that we have. They are in heaven now but their legacy lives on. Stopping by from the Weekend Brew.

  2. Sharon says:

    I hopped over from Weekend Brew. This was a wonderful story, one which I related to. My dad just passed away in January, and now my mom is on her own after almost 62 years of marriage. She’s done well, but it’s still such a difficult adjustment. She isn’t driving either, after doing that her whole life. Right now she says she wants to stay in her home, and we are honoring that. But I know how much she loves talking to people and sharing about the Lord. I wonder sometimes if a *move* like Grandma EB’s wouldn’t just help her blossom. I’m going to tuck this sweet story, and the lessons from it, into my *back pocket* for a later day when we take the next step with Mom.

    Thank you for sharing – this was truly beautiful. Just like the bead necklaces draped over a heart of gold that beats for her Savior.


  3. inspiredbyjune says:

    Wonderful memories, Natalie. My Nana was a lot like your Grandma E.B. Content in her circumstances, always looking for the good in others. I don’t remember her mentioning Jesus much, but you SAW Jesus in everything she did. Her life was her witness. How I pray the same is true of me. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Renee@Doorkeeper says:

    This reminds me so much of my own grandmother! What a beautiful woman your Grandma E. B. was! I shared this on twitter so others might stop in & be blessed. I’m visiting from one of the link ups.

  5. Aubrey says:

    Just read this. Wow. So many good memories. She was a wonderful example to all of us. I frequently have told Mike and the kids what a lovely lady Grandma E.B. was. And apple slice never tasted sweeter that when she would sit on her front steps, expertly removing the peel in one long spiral, and handing slices to eagerly waiting grandkids!

    • Natalie says:

      So many memories of that grandma we shared. I missed the apple slices, though! She was an amazing and determined woman. I met Jaime just about the time she passed away. I’ve always wished that he and the kids could have known her.

  6. Janet says:

    This reminded me of my Grandparents – especially my Grandmother who had to keep moving into smaller and smaller apartments at the Home she and Grandpa had chosen. They started with a house on the property, then moved into a small apartment. When he died, she had to move again to an even smaller apartment and finally to a hospital room. Through it all, she kept a smile on her face and a positive attitude. Now I’m crying – thank you for this pause in my road.

  7. sarahgirl3 says:

    What wonderful memories you have!
    My Grandma lived with us. She would get down on her knees every night to pray. And she had practically the whole Bible memorized. My Mimi was always helping take care of her 8 siblings, and always with a smile and laugh. I pray I can leave a fraction of their legacy!

    • Natalie says:

      That spiritual heritage is such a blessing, isn’t it? And that desire to leave a legacy is hope for the future. What a blessing to have your grandma live with you.

  8. bluecottonmemory says:

    I love – really love – not just meaning like a bunch – inheritance stories like this – because that is what they are – stories of a rich inheritance someone poured into your life. Stories like your Granny’s are stories that change lives:) -I understand why Lyli is blessed by your blog – I am, too!

    • Natalie says:

      Absolutely! Such inheritances as this–and their stories–are life changing treasures. Thanks for sharing your encouraging words and for stopping by.

  9. joanneviola says:

    Natalie, although we have “met”, I still had to come visit from Lyli’s introduction today 🙂 & I am so glad I did. I so want to learn this lesson from your Grandma EB –> “she found freedom to thrive, not in her circumstances but in Jesus.” May we thrive in Jesus all the days of our lives! Thank you for sharing this.

  10. MARY PERRY says:

    Beautiful tribute! My goodness, brought so many memories of my grandma Thomas, picking mulberries, and rhubarb for the best pie in the world……………………..Thank you Natalie!

    • Natalie says:

      There’s really nothing like a grandparent, is there? And the goodness that pours forth from a grandma’s kitchen is unmatched. Thanks for sharing your memories and for your encouraging words.

      • MARY PERRY says:

        I was lucky enough to have three sets, and have a million memories. They were all so wonderful. One grandma’s house was so special that I go by it occasionally, park in front and just cry. It was the place I always felt the most loved and the most safe, as a child. Your writing always take me right along with you, you have such a special way with your words.

  11. Lanette Rodgers says:

    “What Made Her Sparkle” was particularly poignant today. Yesterday Rachel and I went to visit a 93 year old woman who, just a few weeks ago, moved into an assisted living apartment. The woman maintained a cheerful demeanor, but it was easy to see what a difficult change this was for her. She broke her arm last winter when she slipped on a small patch of ice. Rachel helped take care of her during her convalescence. We enjoyed the stories of her long life in the small town we were visiting. On our way home Rachel and I drove past the home where this woman had lived for the previous 58 years.

    Your talent for writing blesses me. Thanks

    Aunt Lanette

    • Natalie says:

      The stories of the elderly are a true gift, if only we will stop long enough to hear them. What a blessing you must be to that woman when you visit her. Thanks for sharing part of your story here today and for your kind words to me.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *