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The Legacy of One Who Knew How to Love Changed Me

The Legacy of One Who Knew How to Love Changed Me

There are women who come and go in our lives, some leave a lasting impact, and some don’t. But then there is a whole different category of those who leave an indelible mark on you… without you really even knowing it—until they are no longer with you. As I mourned the loss of my grandma, I became fully aware of how much she had impacted me.

Funny how a life speaks louder to you after they are gone.

The day after Grandma had passed, my mom and her four sisters were planning the service and I received a text from Mom asking if I’d like to share anything. Honestly—my first reaction and my actual response was this: “No, I feel like the other cousins got to spend way more time with her and have more memories than I do… so I’ll let them share.”

The reality is that I always kind of felt unseen by my grandma. Listen, it’s OK—there are no hard feelings or pity party here. I know she loved me, and it really came down to logistics. We lived an hour and a half apart, so I only saw her two-three times a year for holidays, weddings, and reunions. The other part of that is we have a huge family—there is a total of 14 grandkids. So, when I felt overlooked, I think it was because I got lost in the shuffle.

A Life Worth Remembering

But here’s the thing I realized as memories began to flood my mind—while I felt unseen by Grandma, I definitely saw her.

I saw the way she loved her husband. I remember seeing them flirt—sometimes unabashedly—even after decades of being married. She always had this special glimmer and giggle when she was near Grandpa. I saw the way she took care of the household and the way she took great care in feeding him. You know how the saying goes: “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach!” But seeing how much they loved each other, I think she could have served him burnt toast with rotten eggs and he still would’ve winked at her and she still would’ve sat on his lap and giggled… no matter how many of us were in the room.

I want to live like that.

I saw the way she loved her five daughters. Obviously, I wasn’t around to see her with them when my mom and her sisters were growing up, but I heard the stories and it sounds like she had a good balance of teaching them how to work hard. They had to help with both household life and the dairy farm, were disciplined when they got in trouble, and there was always a good amount of joking around and laughter. I saw how much she enjoyed being with her girls as adults. They are all so loud and ornery, but she was right there in the midst, laughing and cutting up… I can still see her, smile bright and joy shining as she interacted with them. It was obvious that she not only loved but enjoyed her children.

While I felt unseen by Grandma, I definitely saw her.

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I want to live like that.

I saw the way she loved herself. She was always so well put together, her clothing modest, her hair and makeup just right. I remember my mom telling me how Grandma would wake up super early—before Grandpa and the girls to get ready—no matter if they were working on the farm or going to church. Some may say it was vanity… was it humility? Or possibly insecurity—fighting the ugly inner battle that all women face. I kind of think it was all of the above.

By the time I was old enough to notice, she had overcome the wounds of a difficult childhood with a harsh mother. The Lord blessed her with a sweet mother-in-law who not only taught her how to love Jesus but also how to love herself with the truth that she has worth and beauty in Christ.

I want to live like that.

I saw the way she loved people. My goodness, how she loved people. No one was a stranger to her as she would strike up a conversation with anyone in such a way that those around would think she’s known them for years.

As the girls left home, Grandma found great purpose in volunteering at the local nursing home. She spent many hours loving on the residents—talking with them and displaying so much compassion and care, from baking brownies to holding their hand and caressing their hair as they took their last breath. This was her ministry and I love how she stepped into her calling. She taught us all that ministry isn’t just confined to what happens within the walls of the church. It’s more than what the preacher does behind the pulpit or the teacher in the Sunday school classroom. Ministry is always about the people—showing them love and compassion, coming alongside one when they have a need, and shining the light and love of Jesus to those who are struggling with the dark. It’s what my grandma’s life displayed so beautifully—she loved the Lord so deeply that she couldn’t help but shine that love onto everyone in her life. And she taught me that no matter my age or stage in life, as long as I have breath, God wants to use me to touch another.

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I want to live like that.

I saw the way she loved Jesus. My goodness, how she loved the Lord. I saw the Bibles nearly falling apart with notes and such tucked in. I saw her face lifted in worship, and if I lean into that memory enough I can still hear her timid voice singing “In The Garden” and “Because He Lives” when I would sit near her at church. I saw the notecards of Scripture written in her beautiful script, placed here and there throughout her house.

She truly loved the Lord with all her heart, mind, soul, and strength.

I want to live like that.

I saw the way she loved her church. She was so loyal in serving the Lord and dedicated to attending the services—making sure her girls grew up knowing about Jesus and the Bible. I saw the way she willingly served in the background with classroom projects, fundraisers, and taking charge of the Candlelighters—a part of the service that symbolized the Light of Christ with us and the importance of taking the Light with us when we leave the church service. She took all of this very seriously and I saw how she served whole-heartedly for many, many years.

I want to live like that.

I’ve learned to define ministry in its most pure and simple form: just love the one in front of you.

Sisters, when we look at it through that lens, then we will discover great purpose in loving those right before our very eyes—those in our home, ourselves, and in our community.

That’s your ministry—your calling! And I don’t know about you, but I want to live like that!

For all of us who are inspired by her life, I’d like to remind you (and me) that because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, His Spirit is deposited within us when we accept salvation. So through this mighty work of grace, His very being is interwoven with ours—enabling and empowering us to go, do, say, and be the love and light the world needs—even when it’s scary or hard or messy.

It means that through our relationship with Jesus, we find the grit and grace to live well. It means we can live like that!

One Last Thing God Has Brought to My Mind…

Jesus simplified the 10 Commandments, plus all the additional laws His people added to it (up to 600!). He narrowed it down to the two greatest commands for us to live out when He said this:

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind… and You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” (Matthew 22:37-39).

As I think back on her life well lived, I believe my grandma got that right and she will forever inspire me to love the Lord so much that when others see me, they see Him.

Sisters, may we all live like that and may we all remember that a life well lived speaks so much louder than any sermon well preached, any article or book well written, or any social media post well scripted or filtered.

After all, you never know how many young women are watching you.

You have great potential to make a lasting impact on them.

We can discover great purpose in loving those right before our very eyes—those in our home, ourselves, and in our community.

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For more on developing strong relationships with others, start here:

This Kind of Love Is What Makes a Mother’s Legacy
He Brings Me Flowers, but Is That Enough?

Easy Ways to Get to Know Your Neighbor
Why You Need to Support Other Women and 5 Ways to Start

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A Kansas girl, Jodi is a hairstylist and woman who loves marrying her passion for helping women look and feel their best with a good dose of hope in her writing.

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