faith, personal

My Mamaw: Maggie Mae Smith 1916-2015

I attended the funeral of my Mamaw today. She would have been 100 years old next month. We had a small visitation before a small graveside service in McKinney and it was a beautiful tribute to a life of faith lived well.

My cousin, Curtis, said the eulogy, my husband John said the prayer, and my brother-in-law, Steven, sang the Lord’s prayer and led a couple of hymns. My father did the main talk and spoke about my Mamaw’s life. There were things said that I hadn’t heard before and I so I thought I’d get the notes from my Dad and share them here.

Maggie Mae Smith
February 17, 1916 – December 28, 2015

Maggie was born in Whitehouse, Tennessee and lived through times that bred strong, durable, hardy people. They had no automobile and walked to church and school.  Her father was a tobacco sharecropper and she had to drop out of school at the end of her 9th grade year to help on the farm. She developed a strong work ethic and faith that characterized the rest of her life.

She was a teenager when the Great Depression hit in 1929. Money was scarce, but they survived living off the produce they grew on the farm. Later she began to date, but would dismiss any suitor that did not profess faith in Christ. Entertainment was scarce, but there were plenty of church functions, picnics, and socials to keep them busy.

In 1933, there was a 3-day debate between a Baptist preacher and Church of Christ preacher. People came from all over by way of buggies, wagons, horseback, cars, and by foot. Maggie was sitting in a pew, listening to the debate when a sweet potato rolled along the floor and hit her foot. She just kicked it back behind her to get it out of the way. The sweet potato rolled a couple of pews back to hit the foot of a young man named WT Smith, who had traveled from Kentucky to hear the debate. Looking up to see where the potato had come from, he spied the lovely Maggie. He decided pretty quick that he needed to move to Tennessee and court Maggie.

Maggie had expected to be a the wife of a farmer, but WT was determined to be a minister of the gospel, and so she accepted that role and became an exceptional helper to him in his ministry. She was an excellent cook and hostess, which proved invaluable as WT was known for bringing home guests without any notice.

They served at 7 churches in Texas, beginning at San Antonio and ending up at McKinney. Since ministers didn’t make a bunch of money, Maggie supplemented their income by sewing for the public. At one point she drove from McKinney to Sears in south Fort Worth to bring in money.

She was a faithful wife and as WT’s health declined in their later years, she nursed him until she was no longer capable of taking care of him on her own.

Maggie has serious blows to her own health, with osteoporosis and arthritis making it difficult to make it through the day pain free. And then at 90, a stroke left her right arm and leg weakened. But determined not to give in, Maggie kept doing all that she could to be independent. She even went to renew her license and they told her she still had a couple of years left on her license. (though after her confession of her stroke, they wrote her a letter asking her to come in for a test) That put an end to her driving.

Her abilities declined and she got to where she could barely stand without a walker. She would continue to make her bed and attempt to do her own laundry. She was determined to stay active and began crocheting dishrags. She made hundreds of them, giving them as gifts to those around her. It was a small thing, but she did what she could do for others.

She was a woman who didn’t expect life on a silver platter. She dealt with whatever life shoved at her and faced them head-on. She did what had to be done.

Her mind was good until the end, though her body weakened until she could do nothing. She hated the forced inactivity, but endured it as she had throughout life.

She had a simple, strong, immovable faith all her life. She knew what she believed and never wavered. Toward the end, she often said she was ready to go and be with the Lord and she achieved that goal on December 28, 2015.

At the end of her life, Maggie Smith could say as Paul did in 2 Timothy 4:7-8: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.”

As the last chapter of Maggie’s life closes, we celebrate a life well-lived. She was the kind of person strong families, churches, and nations are built upon. Her life is worth emulating as a shining example of strength, perseverance, endurance in the face of difficulty, and a strong belief in the Lord.

Hers was a life that inspires us to persevere…to stay strong…to not waver. We should be inspired to accept with grace the tasks God gives and the limitations life imposes. We should be encouraged to pursue the same goal as she, following her shining example with assurance that we too can experience “death swallowed up in victory” as she now does.


I’m thankful for the godly heritage that I have. If it weren’t for my descendants passing down their faith to their children, and to their children, and so on, I would not be where I am today. I would not be who I am today.

I love living with the assurance of knowing that I am the Lord’s and He is mine.

Thank you, Mamaw, for being God’s child and sharing His love to all. You made a huge difference in this world.

faith, Jesus, spiritual

People of Blessing

“I will” 

These words were spoken several times by God when he spoke to Abraham about the plans laid out for him.

“Go to the land I will show you.”  

Abraham believed God and acted on that belief. He didn’t know what would happen in the land where God was sending him, but he left his homeland and family to do as God commanded. Abraham never would have gone off on his own. He needed God to tell him to. Like Abraham, we have limited vision. We can’t see the big picture and need God to show us where he is wanting us to go. Ask God to show the path He has for you. 
“I will bless you.”
Abraham was childless, but God’s promise to grow his descendants was true. We need to remember that God is at work beyond our abilities. Sometimes current events can be deceiving and it takes a longer view to see the blessings to come. God’s not concerned with our ability or inability. He can work through it all. His concern is for His mission in the world, the plan He has for all mankind.
“All peoples will be blessed through you.”

God’s mission is to reconcile the world back to Himself. He wants everyone to love Him and be in relationship with Him and that is accomplished through Jesus Christ, His Son. All people are blessed through Abraham because Christ is a descendant of Abraham. Because of Jesus, people can come to know God in an intimate way and have a relationship with him. And when we are in a relationship with Him, we become more and more like Him, and therefore a blessing to those around us.  

Can you imagine a people that puts others’ interests before their own? Can you imagine a people that makes decisions based on the benefit of others and not themselves? The people of God, when truly in tune with Him…when transformed into Christ’s image, are a people like that. They are a people of blessing. 
What are you doing to become a person of blessing? 

***Taken from my notes on the sermon by John Ketchersid on 9/14/2014.***

faith, spiritual

We Were Created To Have Meaningful Lives

photo by photostock

The sermon Sunday was based on John 15:26-27, the latest in our church’s series on the Holy Spirit. In the book of John, Jesus spoke to his disciples, telling them he was leaving and promising to send them the Spirit…their advocate. They were given this promise and testified to the goodness of Jesus and the saving power of his life given for the world.

So often we look at Jesus’ disciples and all that they did and think that the real power of the Holy Spirit is not available today. We think that the prophets of old could move men to faith. We look back on past generations as great generations of faith and think there really is no hope for this generation. But God’s kingdom does not rely on great generations. It does not rely on anything except on testimony.

In unity, the following all proclaim…testify…to God’s goodness.

The heavens<span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-14170A" style="box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 12px; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;" value="(A)”> declare<span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-14170B" style="box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 12px; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;" value="(B)”> the glory of God;    the skies<span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-14170D" style="box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 12px; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;" value="(D)”> proclaim the work of his hands. Psalm 19:1

The heavens testify to God’s glory.

“When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me. John 15:26

The Holy Spirit testifies to the truth of Jesus.

 He commanded us to preach to the people<span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-27302A" style="background-color: white; box-sizing: border-box; font-family: 'Helvetica Neue', Verdana, Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;" value="(A)”> and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. Acts 10:42

We are to testify to the truth of Jesus, the One and Only.

There are difficulties to testifying these days. In today’s world we are focused on middle class Americanism. We are all about the American dream, making a good living, and building a life of comfort and ease. But we are created for more.

We are created for our lives to mean something…to be fulfilling and fruitful. 

We all want to come to the end our life having touched other’s lives. We want to be remembered, not for what we owned, but for how we lived. We want a meaningful life. But without a focus on Jesus, our lives are meaningless, unfulfilling, and unfruitful.

A life as a Jesus follower is a life lived in love. When the world responds in hate, we…filled with the Holy Spirit…respond in love. Love truly is the answer. Jesus is the answer.

We are all called. We are called to pave the way in love. That is how we testify. And a life of testimony is a fulfilling life…a fruitful life…a life full of meaning.

**Thank you, John Ketchersid, for a brilliant sermon! **

faith, spiritual

The Power of One Young Man

Last evening I attended my youngest son’s Baccalaureate service at his high school. It was your normal fare of scripture reading, a special message, and prayer, but it is what happened during one special song that made the event a special one.

A talented senior brought out a guitar, called his classmates to worship the Lord with him, then sung the song “Oceans” by Hillsong. This lyrics of this song are a perfect call to graduates to cling to the Lord even when feet may fail (on the ocean). It was moving, to say the least.

Yet what happened in the middle of the song gave me goose-bumps and brought tears to my eyes. A brave young man rose to his feet. He didn’t raise his hands or dance in his seat. He stood. He stood with his hands clasped in front of him. He stood in honor…in honor of the One and Only.

It couldn’t have been easy for him. There were many graduates in the crowd who were Christians, yet he was the lone soul who stood to honor his Lord. No one else rose to stand with him. He stood alone. It takes courage to stand alone. It takes a heart surrendered to give of oneself in the face of solitude.

We should all strive for such a heart.

faith, God, Jesus, spiritual

Weakness and Faith

Photo by luigi diamanti

I’m weak. I fully admit it. I don’t measure up as a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, and a friend. I’ve been selfish. I’ve participated in gossip. I’ve neglected people I love. My mouth needs a muzzle at times. Sometimes I am just a mess and I’m sure my witness for Christ has suffered for it. And this makes my heart hurt.

John’s sermon Sunday was on Hebrews 11, the great chapter on faith, and it was a message I so needed to hear. This chapter lists great heroes of the Bible who were heroes because of their faith…their belief in God. Faith was the foundation of their lives –  no matter how often they failed. You see, these great heroes of faith were not perfect.

Abraham doubted God’s ability to give him a son. He lied about his relationship with his wife. 
Jacob deceived his father and also played favorites with his children. 
Moses killed a man.
David committed adultery and murder.

All of these were commended for their faith…and they were sinners. And this gives me such hope, because I am a sinner whose sins are covered by faith in God and belief in His Son, Jesus. Though I fail at every turn, I still have faith in God and that is my foundation for life. Yes, I need to learn to live in the presence of Jesus and muzzle my mouth and learn to serve in love, but I am covered with God’s love because of my faith in Him.

“Know that I love you. Accept my love,” he whispers.

There is a peace that passes understanding in knowing His love and accepting His love.

I promise to try to live a life worthy of the calling God has place on my life, but I know this…I will continue to mess up. So please forgive me if you are at the receiving end of my mistakes. Know that I love you and never want to cause you hurt or harm.

And then just slap me upside the head and tell me to get over myself!

balance, Christian, faith, hope, inspiration, life, motivation, personal, spiritual, time management

Striving for Who, What, When, Where, Why?

Some days I feel like I am taffy, pulled in so many different directions. So many goals. So many needs around me. So many things I want to do. So what do I focus on first? What do I strive for the most?

I had one of those “step on my own toes” moments this morning in my daily quiet time. I am using Jesus Calling, Devotion for Every Day of the Year, by Sarah Young, and what I read spoke to my heart and I wanted to share a part of the text with you today:

Save your best striving for seeking my face. I am constantly communicating with you. To find Me and hear My voice, you must seek Me above all else. Anything that you desire more than Me becomes an idol. When you are determined to get your own way, you blot Me out of your consciousness. Instead of single-mindedly pursuing some goal, talk with Me about it. Let the Light of My Presence shine on this pursuit, so that you can see it from My perspective. If the goal fits into My plans for you, I will help you reach it. If it is contrary to My will for you, I will gradually change the desire of your heart. Seek Me first and foremost; then the rest of you life will fall into place, piece by piece.  I Chronicles 16:11; Matthew 6:33

Yep, a toe stepper for sure. I tend to go forth doing what I want to do, asking God to bless my efforts instead of listening for His leading and praying about which direction to take.

The answer to the “Who, What, When, Where, Why” of striving is easy. It’s our Lord God. It’s always all about Him. He is the One and Only. He is the answer…the best answer. Always and forever.

May you be blessed by the Lord, the Maker of Heaven and Earth.

faith, personal, spiritual

Dancing In The Rain

I went to my great-uncle’s funeral yesterday and it was a sweet celebration of a life lived in love. Love for family, love for friends, and love for his Savior, Jesus Christ. While I came home thankful for the victory of this life, I was struck by my lack of passion for Christ.

I’ve grown up knowing and loving Jesus all my life, but there are ebbs and flows to faith and I have ridden them high and low. I’ve lived a blessed life–almost idyllic really, and never faced any kind of testing until about 5 years ago. And I haven’t been the same since.

Battling church issues, the start of a new ministry,  losing much of what I had always relied upon in the material world–all in obedience to God’s call on our life–caused me to question God. I’ve wondered at His leading. I’ve wondered why. I figured that it’s okay since Job did it. He questioned, but in the end God spoke and plainly stated that He is Lord. He gives and takes. He is God. Period.

I have come to rest in the knowledge of God’s sovereignty, because I firmly believe that He is a God of Love and He will never let me go through anything that He won’t see me through. Though the deepest part of me knows that, I still struggle over lacking that deep passion for Him like I used to have. And I miss it so.

I have a daily quiet time, but it is like a dry creek bed, cracked and desperate for water. I write in a prayer journal, but it reads like a daily planner rather than the reflections of His Word’s power working in my life. I sit in silence, waiting to hear for the One and Only, but I wait until distracted by my daily list of things to do, or the laptop sitting nearby.

Reflecting on my great-uncle’s life has put things in perspective and I believe it is now time for action on my part. It is time to fall prostrate at the feet of my Lord and beg for His presence. It is time to lift up praises to my Savior. It is time to surrender. Completely. Unrestrained.

It’s time and I am ready. And maybe, just maybe, my humbug life will transform into a life of freedom. I won’t wait out the storm, I will dance in the rain. And there will come a time when the clouds will break and the sun will shine through, bringing a rainbow of hope and healing. Until then, I dance, reveling in the ‘reign’ of God washing over me.

Merry Christmas and may God bless us, one and all.