When I was about 14, I was visiting my Grandma in the foothills of North Carolina. It’s hard to describe the beauty that is this homeplace. There is rich history, creeks, woods, hills, valleys, crisp air and wildlife. My dad would want me to let you know that on this property there is a lake, not a pond. It is a lake because it is fed by a spring and is naturally occurring. Near the stream there is an old springhouse. Old as in hundreds of years. Every time I walk the property with my dad, I learn something about nature. He is a NatGeo junkie. When I take my children there, he catches them a lizard, newt, snake, or even a baby raccoon.
If I could describe it all to you so you had a good visual, even show it to you on film, I would still not have given it it’s proper due, because there is an aroma on that property that is unique. It is a mixture of honeysuckle, persimmon trees, and wild blueberry bushes, but there’s something more.
My grandma is gifted in gardening. Her annuals are perennials. They rise up every year on their own just to be tended to by her eager hands. The flowers add to the aroma.
My grandma is gifted in cooking. I’ve never been there when she has not just finished a pound cake, a pan of yeast rolls, or pan fried apples (because they are my favorite and she knew I was coming). The food adds to the aroma.
There is a stream and a lake, surrounded by an unusually soft bed of bright green clover. The water and clover add to the aroma.
It was here I learned to fish, to swim, and to really explore. And it was here I learned about prayer.
One day, in the spring, the homeplace was in all its glory. Flowers of all shapes, sizes, and colors filled the property. Breakfast was fried apples, cantaloupe, sliced tomatoes, bacon, eggs, gravy and biscuits. The aroma was sweet. My Grandma and I were standing outside by a fencepost talking. She was in shorts, a t-shirt, work gloves, tennis shoes, and sweating. She was in her element. My grandma is the hardest worker I know.
She looked at me with her bright, piercing blue eyes, and that day she told me that every morning on her mile-long walk she called out my name when she prayed. She called us all by name, out loud. Every day. Her children, grandchildren, friends and relatives. She talked to Him about them daily.
This arrested the 14-year-old me.
My name is called out to the Holy God of the universe, that He would remember me???
In this moment, I began to understand the friendship nature of our living God. Talking with Him, on a walk down the lane, can be as natural as talking to a friend over a cup of coffee. Until this time I had never prayed out loud for so much as anything but a meal. I had never thought of prayer that way. A conversation. A talk. A major paradigm shift. And I also felt really really loved.
Over the next several years, I strayed somewhat. I sinned, knowingly at times, and had to be forgiven. When I ultimately surrendered everything to Christ in my early 20s, I did it out loud. I talked to God, like a dear friend. I told Him that I couldn’t do it on my own anymore, and I wouldn’t keep anything for me anymore. I gave it all to Him, out loud. “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord”…
That conversation with my Grandma is tucked into my memory and is as sweet to me as a fresh blueberry from those wild bushes that volunteer their fruit for all to enjoy. She doesn’t know the impression that conversation had on my prayer life, on my life. She doesn’t know that I think about it each time I come down that lane, and smell that aroma. She doesn’t know that her humility and selflessness changed me.
Pray for your children. Tell them you do. God answers prayer.
Recently we celebrated her 85th birthday. Her eyes are just as blue and probably more piercing than they were that day by the fencepost, nearly 20 years ago. She doesn’t get to walk a mile everyday anymore. She doesn’t get to garden like she wishes she could. She still cooks. And she prays. She told me she does. At the party in her honor, she made sure to let me know I am prayed for, and dearly loved.
And she still calls out my name, that I may call out His who is worthy of Praise.
1 I love the Lord, for he heard my voice;
he heard my cry for mercy.
2 Because he turned his ear to me,
I will call on him as long as I live.
3 The cords of death entangled me,
the anguish of the grave came over me;
I was overcome by distress and sorrow.
4 Then I called on the name of the Lord:
“Lord, save me!”
5 The Lord is gracious and righteous;
our God is full of compassion.
6 The Lord protects the unwary;
when I was brought low, he saved me.
7 Return to your rest, my soul,
for the Lord has been good to you.
8 For you, Lord, have delivered me from death,
my eyes from tears,
my feet from stumbling,
9 that I may walk before the Lord
in the land of the living.
10 I trusted in the Lord when I said,
“I am greatly afflicted”;
11 in my alarm I said,
“Everyone is a liar.”
12 What shall I return to the Lord
for all his goodness to me?
13 I will lift up the cup of salvation
and call on the name of the Lord.
14 I will fulfill my vows to the Lord
in the presence of all his people.
15 Precious in the sight of the Lord
is the death of his faithful servants.
16 Truly I am your servant, Lord;
I serve you just as my mother did;
you have freed me from my chains.
17 I will sacrifice a thank offering to you
and call on the name of the Lord.
18 I will fulfill my vows to the Lord
in the presence of all his people,
19 in the courts of the house of the Lord—
in your midst, Jerusalem.
Praise the Lord.