Sunday, May 13, 2012

Waiting for any given Sunday

Last year, on Mother's Day, I wrote a tribute to my mom.  It was touching.  I laughed, I cried, it was better than Cats.  Seriously, it was pretty good.  If you are still looking for something for your mom, you should totally steal it.  Although, unless at one point you lit the house on fire, you will have some editing to do.

And my mom still rocks.  But I'm pretty sure she knows that, so this year, I wanted to do something a little different.

Four generations
Between the ride to and from church and the service itself, I heard three, what I consider, "old school hymns."  Listening to them, I can't help but think about the one person I know who loved those hymns more than anyone, my grandmother.  Granted, when she learned them, they were probably new.  This morning as I sang "I need thee every hour," I could just see her sitting in the second pew on the left side of the pulpit holding her hymnal (red for Wednesday, green on Sunday), singing as loud as that little old lady voice could sing.  Any given Sunday, rain, snow, shine, 40 degrees below, broken hip . . . it didn't matter.  She was there, singing.

Growing up, I didn't really give it much thought.  Being a preacher's kid, church four or five times a week was the norm.  But as I look back now her singing it means something so different to me.

I guess when I was a kid, I kinda figured grandma had a pretty cushy life.  She had a great little house with a big yard that was just an ally away from an ice skating rink in the winter. Her stairs were always full of canned goods, so she was never out of food (although you often couldn't climb the stairs without endangering your life). She loved the Lord and would be the first to tell you that.  I guess I thought she sang songs like "The Old Rugged Cross" and "Jesus Paid it All" with joy because she didn't really have any worries.

In hindsight, I wasn't too bright.

She had kids, so right there I know she had worries.  She had my mom late in life and almost died in childbirth. A couple years later my mom almost died of appendicitis (apparently something that runs in my family).  My uncle was adopted and raised so much like a son that I had no idea he wasn't their blood son until my grandpa passed away.   Both her sister's and her niece's husbands died tragically and much too early. Her mother, my great grandmother, had Alzheimers (although in those days it went undiagnosed).  She and her sister cared for her day and and day out for years.  She cared for her until her mom no longer knew who she was. And then she cared for her longer.  And then, she sat right by her side as her mother died. My grandpa was a copper miner, a job that literally risked his life every day. Every day, I'm sure she worried for his safety.  Then, after decades of marriage,  her husband, my grandfather, passed away.  And she lived as a widow. 

She was hospitalized numerous times as her health and her body failed her.

Still she sang.

My grandma the first time she met her great granddaughter, Anna
It was only this morning that I realized when she sang "I need thee every hour," it was the cry of her heart.  She lived through enough tragedy and trials to know that without God providing for her, she wouldn't make it. 

But He did provide for her.  Every day.  Maybe not in that cushy way that I thought.  But no matter what she faced, He always showed up.  And she sang His praise, right up until her breath gave out.

My grandma was a true prayer warrior.  Something I have long admired.  If you are reading this and are family, or friends of our family, or someone she met one time, or someone she heard about that was in need, I guarantee she spent time on her knees for you. A naive 18 year old from small town Montana moving to big State college across the county who thought I knew it all, I often attribute my safety during those college years to the many, many, many hours she spent praying for me.  I also know she prayed that I would find a Godly spouse, as she and my mother before me did. I know that my life today was shaped by her prayers. Both the ones I know and the ones I can't imagine.

Every Sunday after church, from before I was born until I left for college, we sat around the table at her house and ate "Sunday Supper."  Our family was always there, but there was an open invitation to anyone who didn't have anywhere to go . Often we would be joined by a random cousin who was in town or a first time visitor to the church.  When she passed away, the only thing I wanted to inherit was that table, which now sits in my dining room. Although I've come to find out that table is really designed to seat 8, I'm sure we often had 14-16 people squeezed in. I aspire to be the hostess that she was, although her meatloaf will always taste better than mine.  I want people to feel as welcome in my house as they always did in hers. 

But most of all, I want to have the kind of faith she had.  For people to look at me and wonder how, in the midst of all of the pain and loss, I can still sing,"My faith is built on nothing less than Jesus' love and righteousness."  I want my children to hear me singing, "All to Jesus I surrender," and then I want them to see me actually surrender our darkest times to Him, knowing He won't ever leave us.  When my health is failing, when I'm betrayed by my family and friends, when the day comes that I lose my own mother or husband, or just on any given Sunday, I want to live with the kind of faith that knows for sure that God will provide.

So on this Mother's Day, I remember my Grandma Hegstad.  Every time I eat at her table, I will remember her heart, her joy, and her cooking. And every time I hear a hymn, I will remember her faith.

So grandma, I hope you enjoyed this, because I'm pretty sure they have Internet access in heaven.

Happy Mother's Day to all of you mom's, grandmas, and great grandmas. In case you ever have any doubt, your impact reaches beyond the eternal.

I Need Thee Every Hour
Words: An­nie S. Hawks, 1872.
Music: Ro­bert Low­ry

I need Thee every hour, most gracious Lord;
No tender voice like Thine can peace afford.

I need Thee every hour, stay Thou nearby;
Temptations lose their power when Thou art nigh.

I need Thee every hour, in joy or pain;
Come quickly and abide, or life is in vain.

I need Thee every hour; teach me Thy will;
And Thy rich promises in me fulfill.

I need Thee every hour, most Holy One;
O make me Thine indeed, Thou blessèd Son.

I need Thee, O I need Thee;
Every hour I need Thee;
O bless me now, my Savior,
I come to Thee.

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