Ten years ago my Grandma Frances went home to heaven in her sleep just before Christmas.
My Grandpa carefully handed me a brightly-wrapped box on Christmas morning and said, “This is her gift. Now I want you to have it.”
I opened the lid slowly and tears came to my eyes as I saw a lovely string of pearls.
My Mom gently helped me fasten them around my neck. As I ran my fingers over each one, I thought of my Grandmother and all she taught me through her life…
At age twenty-nine, my Grandma contracted polio and learned she would never walk again. She had a husband, two little girls, and a future suddenly very different than she imagined.
A pastor came to visit her in the hospital. He said, “Frances, this can make you bitter or better.” She often told that story with a sparkle in her eyes as she said, “I chose better.” I learned through her example that faith is a choice and with God we can thrive through anything.
My grandparents took a leap of faith and started the first Christian bookstore in their city with a small kiosk in the center of a mall. Over the next few decades that little kiosk grew into a large and successful store that touched countless lives.
Many of my favorite childhood memories are of curling up in the back room with a stack of books. My Grandma taught me hope is like a small seed and, watered with prayer, it can grow into a huge blessing for many.
For fifty-six years my grandparents shared a life together. I adore these two pictures because one is taken when they were dating and the other just a few weeks before she died. The twinkle in their eyes is still the same-and that’s not easy in this world. They faced their share of challenges, like my Grandma’s disability, but always got through them together.
My Nana also loved her family deeply. When I went to college, she often wrote notes to me and signed each one, SCTH (Stay Close to Him). She showed me love is a commitment that begins with Christ and then overflows to everyone else in our lives.
I still miss my Grandma Frances, especially this time of year. Sometimes I pull out her string of pearls and hold them in my hands. Then I think about how we’re all creating our legacy as we live. And while the difficulties we face may seem hard to understand now, God can turn each one into beauty that blesses our family for generations.
Holley Gerth – Cofounder of (in)courage, editorial director for DaySpring, author of Rain on Me, wife of Mark, lover of Jesus, friend to YOU. Visit Holley at Heart to Heart with Holley or follow her on twitter as @HolleyGerth.