For thirty-five years of my
life, I was blessed to know an amazing grandmother. A woman with a
generous hand and an even more lavish heart. An Appalachian woman
through-and through, she knew the hardships of life and the struggles
of choosing to wake up the next morning.
Raised by a violent alcoholic
for most of her life, to the point the children hid for their lives
when he was ‘on a drunk’, she learned the art of finding hope in
difficult circumstances. When her husband died young, leaving her to
raise six children on her own, she took the challenge and bore the
responsibility with amazing strength and grace. The trials continued –
financial crunches on every side, the natural struggle of raising
children, and then the death of her parents (at which time her father
had become a Christian – a remarkable story I’ll have to share at some
I’d always respected this
beautiful woman. The thread of God’s redemption wove through her with
such transparency, drawing family and strangers in without reservation.
She’s the first person who ever called me a ‘writer’, and bought me a
second hand typewriter as proof of her faith in that calling.
I grew up with her stories,
generations of our family history passed down in the beautiful art of
Appalachian storytelling – each story, somehow displaying how God takes
broken, hopeless things and makes them into something beautiful for His
As I grew older and became a
mother of five, I marveled at how Granny survived raising 6 children in
a time before social security, while working 2-3 jobs to make
ends-meet, and still keeping her sense of humor, sanity, and grace. I
knew the stressors of working full-time and being a mom, but I couldn’t
imagine her plight. (Although let me add that a sense of humor is a
One day I asked her how she did
Her first answer (humor) was “I
can’t remember”, as if she’d blotted out the thoughts or was too busy
to keep her wits around her at the time.
And then her smile softened and
her gray-blue took on their tempered glow of faith.
“I prayed…and did the next
God first…and then get out of
bed the next morning. Take the next step. Do the next thing. Breathe.
Prayer gives us the perspective
of our own dependency on God for things we cannot change and do not
have the strength to manage (aka…pretty much everything), and
perspective in His lovingkindness and control gives us the ability to
‘do the next thing’.
This writing journey, just like
life, can be a harrowing roller coaster of disappointments, successes,
rewards, frustrations, and everything in between.
A lot of times all we can do is
remind ourselves of our calling to write and then….pick up the pen and
do the next thing.
Do the next thing.
And remember the joy God has
planted in our hearts to fulfill the calling He’s placed there.
In life and in writing, He who
calls also equips, but our focus drifts from what we ‘see’ to what we
can’t always see. Remembering His dreams for us, his plans for us,
helps encourage our hearts in the middle of the most discouraging
places, and brings hope.
And hope in Him doesn’t