My grandmother, Faith Christina Fauss Williams, impacted my life immensely. She lived her name. She was a faithful Christian who was full of faith. And, as a result of her relationship with God, her life was filled with what I like to call "flower and cucumber" stories. I was privileged to hear (and even witness) these stories first hand.
My mother was an only child, so my brother and I were our maternal grandparents' only grandchildren. My grandparents lived in Texas, and my family lived in Indiana. Though we lived far apart, my brother and I had the opportunity to spend a significant amount of time with our grandparents while growing up.
My grandfather passed away right before my grandparents' 50th wedding anniversay. With us living as far away as we did there were gaps of time between our visits, so my grandmother spent much of her later years alone.
My grandmother loved flowers, and she had bridal wreath bushes that lined her driveway. When in full bloom these bushes would be loaded with tiny delicate white flowers. She would periodically prune her bushes to keep them from overgrowing, and one of these times the timing of her pruning meant her bushes would not bloom during the upcoming season.
My grandmother spent every morning talking with the Lord before she started her day. Often while she prayed she would look out her dining room window and enjoy the beauty of her bridal wreath bushes when they were in full bloom. One morning after the time she had pruned the bushes too late she looked out the window with disappointment at their barren condition and said out loud to herself, "I miss my white flowers." Then she finished praying, went about the rest of her day, and then went to bed. The next morning at the beginning of her prayer time she glanced out her dining room window, and her bridal wreath bushes were loaded down with white flowers. They were so full the flowers looked like snow.
This story is impacting because it's an example of God's love and care for the little things in our lives. Though she felt alone, God reassured my grandmother that day that she was never really alone. I was blessed when my grandmother shared this experience with me, and I continue to be blessed every time I recall the memory.
My grandmother taught children's church from her teen years until she passed away. When she was in her late eighties or just turning ninety she decided to retire from children's church ministry and expressed this desire to her pastor. But he asked her to wait and talk to the Lord a little longer about her decision to retire, so she agreed.
My grandmother was an avid gardener. A few days after agreeing to wait to retire from teaching children's church she was tending her garden and noticed her cucumber plants were not producing cucumbers. She decided she would take time the next day to pull the plants up and throw them away. She went about the rest of her day and then went to bed that evening. The next morning she went out to her garden to pull up the plants and cucumbers as long as from her elbow to her fingertips were loaded on the vines. She carried cucumbers into her kitchen by the bucket loads until they were overflowing out of her sink onto the countertop and floor.
As she looked at the pile of cucumbers in amazement the Lord spoke to her and said, "You thought you were done with those cucumber plants, but you weren't. Just like you weren't done with them, I'm not done with you." She continued teaching children's church until she died.
My grandmother invested her life into God's purpose. Though she was a woman of insignificance with regards to fame and fortune, she impacted many lives over years of giving of herself. She is part of the reason I am who I am today. I've heard others say the same. She was a gift with a gift.
My grandmother died at ninety-three. As I sat through her funeral service I thought about her stories and her faith and wished for stories like hers to tell. While reminiscing I recalled from the Bible where Paul encouraged Timothy and said, "I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well" (2 Timothy 1:5-6). As I considered these things I felt the Lord encourage me in my faith. God reminded me how He had given me a measure of faith just like He assigns to everyone. (See Romans 12:3.) He reminded me of how my grandmother's stories had increased my faith as I grew as a child. Then He reminded me how He, too, had been alongside me all of my life growing my faith as well. Just like Paul encouraged Timothy, I felt God's prompting to stir up the gift of faith that was within me.
I have always wanted flower and cucumber stories. Since that moment with the Lord during my grandmother's funeral service I have come to recognize my own.
I have a lot of childhood memories that continue to impact my life today. The following are three that have played a significant role in my personal growth.
I was around five years old when I dreamed I was lying in bed, and I looked up and saw the face of Jesus in the middle of a cloud. He was looking down at me. As I looked up at Him I reached up and touched His face.
It was a simple dream, yet it was profound. As a five year old I didn't grasp its significance, but I do now. Though I have been blessed with wonderful parents and postive influences, I have also been impacted by negative experiences. Some of my negative experiences developed within me as a child my misguided perspectives of God and myself, but remembering that dream as an adult has helped correct my faulty thinking. Remembering helps me understand how near God really is and clarifies who I am to Him. Whatever happens, God is always within reach. The memory personalizes Psalm 33:18, which says, "Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love" (ESV).
Whenever I think about that dream I am amazed by how God proved Himself to me before I was able to understand what He was doing. Remembering that experience with the Lord has been a source for healing.
One day when I was seven I was setting the table for my mom while she cooked dinner. As I walked through the doorway from the dining room to the kitchen I heard someone say my name—"Kerri." I thought my mom had spoken to me, so I asked her what she wanted. She hadn't said anything to me, so I was perplexed for a moment because I knew someone had said my name. No one else was there besides my mother and I. As I walked down the hallway to my bedroom I remembered the Bible story about God calling Samuel's name (1 Samuel 3). I realized then that God had called my name, so I answered like Eli had told Samuel to answer and said, "Yes, Lord. Your servant hears you."
At seven I had some understanding of the enormity of the exprience, but I didn't feel the significance of its impact until I was an adult. Every time I think about it I am deeply moved by the fact that God spoke to me and said my name out loud when I was just a child. Remembering the experience helps me now when I feel discouraged. Hearing God's voice then helps me recognize now that God has been with me through every step of my journey. Remembering helps me know the extent to which God will go to guide and pull me, and knowing this helps me not be afraid to keep moving forward.
When I was eight, while playing, I suddenly thought my dad was going to have a car accident that day. I knew he was running errands, so I stopped playing long enough to pray for him, and then I continued playing. Several hours later my dad returned home and told us he had been in a car accident.
While driving along the three lane thoroughfare in our town he was in the middle lane with a semi in each lane on each side of him. Traffic was approaching an intersection at about thirty miles per hour, and one of the semis moved into his lane and forced him to veer towards the other semi. At that moment the green light in the intersection turned red and caused the traffic to stop. If the light had not changed my dad would have been crushed between the two semis.
Even at eight I realized the effectiveness of my prayer. I knew God had guided me to pray for my dad and that He had protected him. But I didn't understand the significance of the experience in connection to my own life. But now, as an adult, I am amazed by how easily God could speak to me and how, even though I was a child, I heard and recognized His voice. This evidence of God's pull for me from when I was a child drives my desire to stay in tune with His voice and to continue to respond to His guidance.
I was an adult when I asked God for "flower and cucumber" stories. But God had already answered my prayer before I prayed it, I just didn't recognize it. These stories are my "flower and cucumber" stories. They are precious memories of God's presence throughout my life, and they are a treasure. These experiences are the reason I am who I am today. They are evidence of the measure of faith God gave me early in my life, and the other stories I have shared in my previous blogs reveal how that faith has been developed through my journey with the Lord. I recognize this gift I have been given, and I am stirring it up.
My grandmother and I are not the only ones with these kinds of stories. Consider God's presence in your life. If you look back, can you see now when He was there then? What "flower and cucumber" stories do you have to tell? I want to encourage you to stir up the gift of faith that has been given you.
"Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, 'Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water'" (John 7:38, ESV). My grandmother was full of living water that flowed out and influenced others. The water she shared helped shape my life. It is my desire to do for you what my grandmother did for me. I hope you will do the same for others.