A Tribute to My Amish-Preacher Grandpa

Grussdaudy

My Grussdaudy ~ Isaac L. Dienner

“Isaac L. Dienner my beloved Grussdaudy (Grandaddy) finished his pilgrimage on earth Friday evening, February 5, 2010. An Old Order Amish minister for 57 years, he left an enduring legacy of faith for his 14 children, 48 grandchildren &  (at the time of his death) 76 great-grandchildren.” ~ Quote from my brother, Jet Dienner

Grussdaudy’s Entrance Into Eternal Joy

Grussdaudy,

You knelt humbly beside your bed, receiving daily strength from your Heavenly Father.

Now you kneel before God’s throne, and see with heavenly eyes His glorious riches, and behold face to face how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ. You are engulfed and surrounded with all the surpassing love and fullness of God.
Eph 3:14-19

You bowed your head in daily worship of God, with Grussmummy by your side.

Now you worship with the heavenly multitude on the sea of glass, clear as crystal, before God’s throne, which is surrounded with the emerald rainbow. You hear with your ears the four living creatures who day and night never stop saying: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.” You see the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne, and worship him who lives forever and ever.
Rev 4:6-11

You were chosen here on earth, by the Spirit of the Lord upon you, to “preach good news to the poor, proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Now you stand in victory on the mountain where the Lord Almighty has destroyed the shroud that enfolds earth, where death has been swallowed up forever, and God has wiped away the tears from all faces.
Isaiah 61:1
Isaiah 25:6-8

You persevered, and endured hardships here, holding firm to your faith till the end.

Now you will reap the harvest of righteousness. You stand in heaven, saved by grace, and gaze upon Jesus, the author and perfecter of your faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame. You see him sitting down at the right hand of the throne of God!
Hebrews 12:1-3
Matthew 24:13

You were the patriarch of a large family here, and led and witnessed many weddings.

Now you celebrate with saints, at the wedding supper of the lamb. You take your place at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.
Revelations 19:9

You worked skillfully here as a carpenter, crafting beautiful things from wood.

Now you live in the place prepared for you by the Master Carpenter.
Mark 6:3
John 14:1-4

You lived a life of simplicity and modesty, poor in the eyes of the world.

Now you inherit the riches, the beauty, the grandeur and the splendor of God’s kingdom, which can never perish, spoil or fade. You shine like a star with the brightness of heaven, and walk on streets of gold.
Matthew 6:19
James 2:5
1 Peter 1:3-5
Daniel 12:3

You harnessed horses and drove your buggy here on earthly roads.

Now you will witness a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True…His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns…The armies of heaven follow him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:
KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.
Rev 19:11-16

You led a peaceful life, earnestly seeking that God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Now the earthly veil is removed, and you reign with Jesus forever. You taste and see the goodness and glory of the Son of God, The Prince of Peace.
Matthew 6:10
Psalm 34:8
Romans 12:18
Isaiah 9:6

You read your worn German Bible, by the dim light of an oil lamp.

Now you see the face of your beautiful Savior Jesus, THE Word. You see his face, and his name will be on your forehead. You will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give you light.
Psalm 17:15
John 1:1
Revelation 22: 4-5

Thank you God for my Grandfather’s faithful witness of the Gospel, and for the way pictures of his life on earth are shadows of the glory to be revealed in the age to come. Thank you that your Word is true, and it will endure forever! 

A grateful granddaughter, Justina (written February, 2010)

This is post number 24 of a 31 post series called Lessons From My Amish Family. Click here to read more!

 

 

Patience and Perseverance {A lesson from my Grandpa}

Grandpa Esh

Grandpa Jonas Esh

“The strength of patience hangs on our capacity to believe that God is up to something good for us in all our delays and detours.” – John Piper

When he was thirty-six years old my Grandpa Jonas Esh was a husband, father to six children and Amish farmer and businessman. Life took a dramatic turn one day when he and a crew of workmen were painting the barns on Grandpa’s farm.

Grandpa's Farm

One of the barns on Grandpa’s Farm in Morgantown, PA.

Grandpa was on top of a tall ladder with a spray painter in hand. One of the men on the crew moved the paint truck, not realizing the paint hose was attached to the ladder Grandpa was on.

The ladder fell several stories and so did my Grandpa. His life changed forever. He suffered a broken spine, permanent nerve damage and became partially paralyzed in his legs. In addition, he lost use of his kidneys, forcing the need for dialysis treatments three times per week for the rest of his life.

Jonas Esh Family - early years

Grandpa and his family before the accident

I don’t know what life looked like for those first years after the accident. I can imagine it must have been incredibly difficult. I do know that Grandpa & Grandma were surrounded by a strong community, and that my uncles grew up quickly as they suddenly had to shoulder the responsibilities of the farm.

Grandpa & Grandma Esh & Family in the 70's

Grandpa & Grandma Esh & Family in the 70’s

I knew the older version of Grandpa. A man who was told he would never walk again, but proved everyone wrong. He had a limp but it failed to stop him. He didn’t use a cane, and even refused to use handicapped tags for his car, saying there were other people who needed the space more than he did. My Grandpa was unstoppable! People with less strength of character would have given up on life, but not Grandpa. Instead, he carried on – displaying incredible perseverance and tenacity.

Grandpa on the roof

Grandpa working on the roof

In spite of all his difficulties, Grandpa never displayed frustration or discontentment to us grandchildren. He was patient, kind, and a whole lot of fun to be with!

Fishing with Grandpa

Fishing with Grandpa

Grandpa and the wagon

Hauling pumpkins with Grandpa

Relaxing with Grandpa

Relaxing with Grandpa

Helping Grandpa

Helping Grandpa

Birthday Party with Grandpa

Birthday Party!

Grandpa Jonas combing my brother Jonas' hair

Grandpa Jonas combing my brother Jonas’s hair

I’m sure there are many things that helped cultivate perseverance and patience in his life, and Grandma was an incredible source of strength to him over the years. But I believe his deep trust in his Savior and his eternal perspective are what sustained Grandpa through all the difficulties he faced on a daily basis. Grandpa loved hymns, and one of his favorites was “Going Down the Valley”:

“We are going down the valley one by one,
When the labors of the weary day are done;
One by one, the cares of earth forever past,
We shall stand upon the river brink at last.” ~ Jessie Pounds

Grandpa & Grandma playing a game together

Grandpa & Grandma playing a game ~ I love this picture because it shows them working through something together, just as we always saw them do in life.

I sure do miss you Grandpa. I never got to see you run here on earth – those legs of yours wouldn’t allow you to do it. But I look forward to the day I see you in heaven, whole and complete, maybe even running by that river you loved to sing about. And thank you for teaching me what it means to persevere and be patient – no matter what obstacles and hardships come my way. I’m forever grateful to God for your example.

~ Justina Dee

 This is post number 19 of a 31 day series I’m blogging about my Amish family. Thanks so much for reading! Click here to read more.

 

 

 

 

The Choice to Forgive {Lessons from My Amish Family}

Dirk Willems (died 16 May 1569) (also spelled Durk Willems) was a Dutch martyred Anabaptist who is most famous for escaping from prison, turning around to rescue his pursuer—who had fallen through thin ice while chasing Willems—to then be recaptured, tortured and killed for his faith. | Wiki

Dirk Willems (died 16 May 1569) (also spelled Durk Willems) was a Dutch martyred Anabaptist who is most famous for escaping from prison, turning around to rescue his pursuer—who had fallen through thin ice while chasing Willems—to then be recaptured, tortured and killed for his faith. | Wiki

As I live in a western society that breathes, practices and preaches personal rights and justice, sometimes it’s hard for me to fathom modeling a life of forgiveness in the way Jesus commands:

“…and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” Matthew 6:12

“For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” Matthew 6:14

“Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.” Matthew 18:21-22

“And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.” Mark 11:25 – (ESV)
But there’s a countercultural model in America, and it was best demonstrated after the horrific Nickel Mines shootings in a once innocent little one-room schoolhouse, where gunman Charles Carl Roberts IV took hostages and shot ten girls (aged 6–13), killing five of them. In the days, weeks, months and now years that followed, Amish families who were the very victims of the tragic shootings of those sweet little school girls not only spoke words of forgiveness, but demonstrated it, by loving the shooter’s mother, widow and children – and (gasp!) even attending his funeral as an extension of grace to his family only days after burying their own daughters.
Nickel Mines School | Image via NY Daily News

Nickel Mines School | Image via NY Daily News

Nickel Mines School | Image via NY Daily News

Nickel Mines School | Image via NY Daily News

Imagine growing up in a home, and among peers in your church, school and community where forgiveness is practiced and taught, instead of personal rights. Extending grace is the choice made instead of seeking revenge. Meekness is sought after and more highly esteemed than force. When this is the culture of a people, choosing to forgive naturally becomes their reaction in a time such as the Nickel Mines shootings, as it is a collective reflex of their trained character and nature.

“I would say the difference here with the Amish is that this is part of their cultural DNA. They aren’t individualistic like other Americans are, so the burden doesn’t fall so much on the individual to forgive, although individuals obviously are part of the process. But this is more built into the cultural rhythms and the cultural DNA of the Amish community. It’s just the way we live and the way we’re expected to respond in the face of hostility.” ~ Donald Kraybill

I saw this kind of forgiveness demonstrated in my Grandpa Esh’s life. (You can read his story by clicking here.) Instead of being angry and bitter as a result of tragedy – seeking revenge, compensation and justice for being robbed of the ability to walk and function as a normal man, he chose to forgive and move on with life.

I also experienced it in the thousand little ways my family handled things. I’ve watched typical (and great!) American parents who distract their child who is hurt by running into something such as a chair say something like, “what a horrible, bad, awful chair that is for hurting you!”. You would never hear an Amish parent say anything of the kind. Instead, they would simply make sure their child is okay, and quietly move on, placing no blame on the chair or anything else for that matter.

The manner in which the Amish people extend grace in the face of evil seems so unnatural, and could be viewed as forgiving too easily, or even a sign of inner weakness. Typically we want justice in the face of personal tragedy, and revenge when we’re treated unfairly. In the above referenced article Donald Kraybill goes on to explain, “…for the Amish, who bring their own religious resources to bear on injustice, the preferred way to live on with meaning and hope is to offer forgiveness—and offer it quickly. That offer, including the willingness to forego vengeance, does not undo the tragedy or pardon the wrong. It does, however, constitute a first step toward a future that is more hopeful, and potentially less violent, than it would otherwise be.”

In my Amish family and among the Anabaptist culture, there is a longstanding heritage of choosing to forgive. It was first modeled by Jesus as he forgave the very people who crucified Him. I grew up hearing the accounts from Martyr’s Mirror – where believers who were being tortured in horrific manners, and burned at stake for their faith, chose to forgive those men who were inflicting the unspeakable atrocities upon them.

Children walking to their new schoolhouse called "New Hope School" | image via Seattle Times

Children walking to their rebuilt schoolhouse called “New Hope School”  Image via Seattle Times

“In a world where faith often justifies and magnifies revenge, and in a nation where some Christians use scripture to fuel retaliation, the Amish response was indeed a surprise. Regardless of the details of the Nickel Mines story, one message rings clear: religion was not used to justify rage and revenge but to inspire goodness, forgiveness, and grace. And that is the big lesson for the rest of us regardless of our faith or nationality.” – Donald Kraybill

Obviously we may not all agree with the Amish and Mennonite theology on pacifism and their views on culture. But their beautiful practice of forgiveness is an undeniable beacon and shining example of grace to all of us. I consider myself incredibly blessed to learn from them, and to call them my family.

~ Justina Dee

This is a post from a series I’m sharing about my Amish family. Click here to read more.

Reference: Christianity Today’s “Amish Grace & the Rest of Us” The Amish response to the Nickel Mines shootings wasn’t just plain Christianity. Donald B. Kraybill, Steven M. Nolt, and David L. Weaver-Zercher/ SEPTEMBER 17, 2007

Links:

Nickel Mines Legacy – Forgive First | Pittsburgh Post Gazette 

The Culture of Forgiveness 

Sweetmama {In Honor of International Women’s Day}

 

Sweetmama #lydiaglick

She walks into a room and her very presence brings a calm, beautiful serenity that gently settles over everyone like a cool, soft, sheet on a summer night.

Sacrificial love pours from her life like water from never-ending vessel, selflessly, quietly & gracefully serving all she encounters.

A loving and timely word spoken from her understanding heart – which has felt and endured much pain, encourages weary souls along their tiresome journey. When people are with her they find themselves aspiring to greater and nobler dreams than ever before. 

Hospitable and gracious is she. Dignitaries, and people of importance love her excellent company and worthy conversation. But of much greater concern to her, are those who are never seen by the crowds hurrying and bustling along life’s Busy Boulevard. The ones who desperately need love in order to simply survive are not only noticed but sought out by her. And she extends her hand, draws them close and carries them to the safe, warm light and comforts of home, giving freely of all she has.

The future is clear to her. No, she may not know exactly what will happen each day, but no matter what comes her way she is certain of her destination and she rests in supreme confidence on the Love of her Savior, leaning on her Beloved every single step of life’s way.

There is a bold and creative beauty in her eyes, one that takes risks and seizes moments others have not the courage to grasp. She sees potential and opportunity where most see nothing but bleak darkness. She’s a visionary and forerunner who blazes trails others will later follow.

To be with her is to learn from her. From the simplest of tasks to the most formidable, she carefully teaches and shares purposeful meaning in all sorts of matters.

Each day is filled with opportunity,  and she is master of the moments, never squandering a single minute. Instead she rises early and orders her day and the events and tasks – as well as opportunity for quiet, peaceful moments it holds – in such a manner that when she finally lays her head on the pillow at night she knows she has done all she could do to make the world a better place for those she so desperately and tenderly loves.

Impossible, you say, for a woman to be all those things? I say it is not only possible, but  it has been done. One of my childhood and lifetime heroes (who is advancing not only in years, but also in radiant beauty, and is lovingly called “Sweetmama” by her family) is all these things and countless more.

Although most have never met her, and they certainly don’t know her name, to me “Sweetmama” epitemizes the essence of beautiful womanhood. Years may have stolen some things from her, but her beauty shines on and grows only stronger with time. I honor her, my mother, my grandmothers, my sisters, daughters, aunts, friends and all the other brave and TRULY beautiful women in this world on this “International Woman’s Day”. 

May God bless you and cause His face to shine upon you,

~ Justina Dee

Some favorite, fitting quotes:

“Her children rise up and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many women have done excellently,
but you surpass them all.”
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” Proverbs 31:28-30  (ESV)

“Beauty… when you look into a woman’s eyes and see what is in her heart.” – Nate Dircks

“You can take no credit for beauty at sixteen.  But if you are beautiful at sixty, it will be your soul’s own doing.”  ~Marie Stopes

“Elegance is timeless” ― Habeeb Akande

“For Attractive lips, speak words of kindness.
For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.
For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.
For beautiful hair, let a child run their fingers through it once a day.
For poise, walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone.
People, more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed. Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you will find one at the end of each of your arms.
As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself and the other for helping others.” ― Sam Levenson

“The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries, or the way she combs her hair. The beauty of a woman is seen in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides. True beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It’s the caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she shows & the beauty of a woman only grows with passing years.” ― Audrey Hepburn

“Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart.” ― Kahlil Gibran

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”
― Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

 

The Deep Well of a Mother’s Love {A glimpse into the life of an adoptive family}

Mother and her family

 

“No language can express the power, and beauty, and heroism, and majesty of a mother’s love.  It shrinks not where man cowers, and grows stronger where man faints, and over wastes of worldly fortunes sends the radiance of its quenchless fidelity like a star.” ~Edwin Hubbell Chapin

(Is there someone from your childhood whom you haven’t seen for a very long time, but your heart still glows with love every time you think of them? My daughter, niece and I visited one of those people this weekend, and her life experiences over these past years is too beautiful and inspiring to keep to myself. On Friday afternoon we took a little road-trip under the hot Texas sun, through a few beautiful little towns, down a country road, up a long gravel lane, and finally arrived at our destination. We parked by the fenced pasture and were greeted by the family dogs.)

As we made our way to the house, the front door opened, and out walked one of the most beautiful families I’ve ever seen. First came my childhood friend (now a mother), followed by twelve of her and her husband’s thirteen children.

We embraced, then my eyes brimmed with tears at what followed. My friend’s intense love for each child was evident on her face (and even in her mannerisms and gestures) as she introduced me to every one of her blessings. Eight biological and five adoptive children (from Cambodia, Guatemala and Ukraine.) With each introduction of her precious ones, I was given another glimpse of their mother’s deep, deep love for them.

We sat down around the table in the farm-style kitchen and enjoyed a scrumptious family style meal, followed by a three-layered cake lovingly and beautifully baked by two of the girls. Sharing time with this family was an extraordinary experience. I sat across from a long bench of beautiful little ones, who sat in front of a large window through which you could see the great outdoors. The respect and courtesy these children demonstrated to us their guests, as well as to each other was a complete delight to behold (and experience).

Dinner was full of reminisce, stories and laughter. Love emanated from my friend and in turn, from each of her children. As the matter of fact, there is no denying the fact that this home is built on the strong and firm foundation of God’s love, as every square inch is filled with its grace and beauty. The picture of these children together, in their little corner of the world is such a picture of redemption that I have no words to describe it. What can one woman do to change the world? I need look no further than my friend’s kitchen table in Texas. The respect, admiration and adoration these children have for their mother is precious to behold. After all, she is a picture of Jesus to them.

Playground

After supper, everyone helped clean the kitchen, and we headed outside where twilight was just setting in. The children played, (all the older ones helping the littles), while us mommies caught up on the years that have passed by. It’s hard to believe there were fourteen children (including the two I contributed to the group) playing around us, they were so well-mannered. Such kindness and joy flowed from every member of this family! My daughter and niece had an amazing time playing, meeting the children’s animals, and then riding horseback.

Family Playground 2

As dusk set in, we took all took a walk together. It was magical. My friend shared the stories of each of her children. All I could think of is how DEEP this mother’s love is! It is like a well. Because her love is an extension of GOD’s love, it never runs dry.

Country WalkWalking along their country lane, we shared the joys and heartaches, the mountaintops and the valleys of our mothering experiences. I heard how one of her daughters was found at the orphanage doorstep, wrapped in rags. She told me about the unlikely path (full of intense sadness and ultimate joy) which led to the homecoming of two sisters from Ukraine. We talked about babies being born after their due-date. We shared struggles, current battles and the reality of living a life that looks different from those expectations we had as young women what seems so long ago.

My beautiful friend

I didn’t want this evening to end. We finished our visit with some time around the piano. (Which my friend’s children can play, as well as the violin!) As we sang “Amazing Grace” together, and the children’s clear, sweet voices rose up around me at the piano bench, I was completely overcome with emotion. These little ones understood these words far better than most of us could ever begin to do.

“Through many dangers, toils and snares

I have already come;

‘Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far

And grace will lead me HOME” ~ John Newton

Amazing Grace

Incredibly inspired. Massively challenged. And undeniably encouraged am I, by this dear woman’s deep well of Love. May we all die to self. Live to love others, and make an eternal difference in our world in such a way as this.

~ Justina Dee 

The Frontlines of Motherdom

Portrait by E. Dubufe

Portrait by E. Dubufe

 

The mother stood immovable at the door of her family’s home built on a great Rock, and she boldly faced the world outside. A storm was raging in the night all around her. She held a lantern high in one hand and wielded a sword in the other. The light and warmth from her lamp shined a clear, unapologetic beacon outward, and she peered valiantly into the obscure and cold darkness. An exquisite scarlet curtain hung over the door, marking her humble home with royal Grace and Beauty. The little house on the hill shone brightly behind her, and her family slept safe and warm in their peaceful beds.

As she surveyed the dangerous scene around their home, she saw ferocious enemies taking cover in the darkness. This mother knew there was a battle raging around her, for the very hearts, souls, minds and strength of her precious children. Some mothers who could not see the enemy scoffed at her for the extreme actions she took to protect her little lambs, but nothing could dissuade her from the important mission she was carrying out. She was keenly aware of the rulers, authorities and cosmic powers that lurched in the shadows. But this mother had no fear, because she was armed for battle, and knew not only how to stand her ground, but how to send the enemy away in defeat.

There were days the adversary was evident. He brazenly stalked the children like a lion. His dark shadow caused terror to fall upon those around him because of the sheer evil emanating from it.  Other times he was much less visible, as he crept in through open doors and unguarded gates & passages.  Sometimes he would even disguise himself, and appear as an angel of light, walking into the midst of her undiscerning neighbors and destroying everything around him.

But this mother was qualified, equipped and prepared for the battle at hand. The experiences in her life had readied her for this time of motherhood. She remembered the combat from her past. There was the time when an evil dragon sat looming as large as a tree outside her home. She prayed and spoke the Words of the Eternal One into the atmosphere, until he soared away, never to return. Once when she was walking along an obscure path, a cougar who was stalking her jumped from above. She drew her sword, and it fled in defeat. She remembered her dream warning of evil men with intention to annihilate a friend. She joined with others who warred, and together they prayed till the danger of murderous evil had passed. She thought about the times she saw glimpses of messengers and warriors of Light, who were sent by the King to guard her, and battle the evil forces. They resolutely guarded the paths all around their house, went up and down the stairs and walked the rooms throughout their home, guarding the family while they slept at night.

After she became a mother, she grew in discernment and wisdom. There was a time when she learned that the enemy was scheming to take her children away into the darkness. She gathered her darlings and hid them in the safe place she had prepared ahead of time, until the danger passed.

She knew her children had a great purpose and many things to accomplish during their time on earth, and so she fearlessly and earnestly guarded each of them. She knew they would be brave rulers and fearless prophets. She recognized they would serve the world with love, and they would bear mercy to the nations. She understood they would be world-changing exhorters, beloved teachers, and generous givers. She was utterly mindful of the significance of each child’s life, and the influence they would have on history itself.

She believed the Creator himself knit each of her children together in the womb, and she was determined to equip her children to carry out their lifework. From the time she nursed and carried her infants, she taught them to love the precepts and beauty of Noble things, and through the actions of her life, she modeled to them what trust in the Eternal One looked like. When her babies woke with screams in the darkness of the night and wee hours of the morning, she held them close to her heart. She rose above her weariness, and soothed them with songs and quiet words for hours on end – and she cherished every moment with them.

At times other adults who were fighting battles with her wanted to send the children away, as they thought they were too young to understand kingdom matters, but this brave mother wouldn’t hear of it. Even while the menacing enemy lurked and growled nearby, she roused her children around her and led them to sing songs of victory, with shouts of joy, laughter and delight. The ordained praise from their lips silenced the avenger, and he and his minions cowered away in defeat.

She was intent on guarding and nurturing the important calling of each child’s life. She said she would rather be drowned at the bottom of the ocean than to harm the hearts and purposes of her children in any way.

Sometimes there were battles that raged on for days around their little home on the hill. Thousands of people fell on all sides, but her family’s dwelling was covered by an Almighty Hand, and there was nothing in heaven or on earth that could harm them. There were times when the mother guided her children through dark valleys filled with fearful shadows, and the journey was long and hard. There were seasons when she was too weary to take another step. It was then, that she felt strong and gentle Arms lifting her, then carrying her and her little ones away from all danger, to a safe haven of rest.

This mother trusted her children to the Great Protector and knew that one day they would have to leave the refuge of their home, and go out into the world without her, to carry out the mission for which they were created.  So she tirelessly taught them how to use their armor, about the companions they should choose, and how to fight and defeat the enemy. She told them that as they left their home and the people they loved, to do the business of the Kingdom, they would be blessed one-hudredfold.

She had no want of confidence as her children grew and went on their way, for their Creator himself had placed love like crowns on their heads and wisdom like bracelets on their wrists. There was a seal on their arms; stronger than death itself. This mother had blessed her children with the gift of faith. They knew that they would be strangers and foreigners in this land, but in the distance they could see the promise of a heavenly country. She knew her children understood that even though the battle was very real, their world was only a shadow, and they were pressing onward to a better city which was being prepared for them – where there was no more darkness, heartache or pain. Never again would there be danger from the evil enemy, because of the great and eternal love of the Victorious One who came to rescue all who believed in Him.

In closing; there are mothers who have one child, and mothers who are blessed with many sons and daughters. There are mothers who rescue orphans and bring them into their arms, adopting them as their own blood. Sometimes caring for these precious ones for brief weeks, and other times they are able adopt them into their homes forever. But no matter how short or long the time, these mothers never stop fighting and praying for the little ones they love. There are precious mothers who bear the sorrow of losing children they loved and protected in their womb, whose feet never walked on the earth beside them. The spirits of their beloved babies went straight to the Beautiful Place, where the battle over death is forever won. Then there are those beautiful women who never carried babies in their own womb, or in their own home, but are nevertheless mothers, nurturers, teachers, and defenders of children in their village and everywhere they walk. Their magnetic love draws children close to their protecting spirits wherever they go, and the lives many children are forever impacted by their love and prayers. There are other mothers whose children were now grown, who come alongside younger women, giving wisdom and encouragement. Together all of these radiant and brave women blaze trails, go to battle, and raise generations of faithful men and women who carry eternal Light and Hope to countless multitudes.

Dedicated with love to Jocelyn; one of the bravest mothers I know.

~ Justina Dee

 

Scriptures referenced in this story:

Ephesians 6:11-13

2 Timothy 1:5

1 Peter 5:8 

Moses’ Mother

The story of Jehoshabeath

Hezekiah’s Mother

Psalm 139:12-14

Samual’s mother Hannah, Mary the mother of Jesus & Elizabeth the mother of John– who understood the plans God had for their babies

Psalm 22:8-10

Isaiah 49:1

1 Thessalonians 2:7

Psalm 8:2

Matthew 19:14

Luke 17:2

Psalm 91

Isaiah 40:11

Psalm 131:1-3

Isaiah 66:13

Proverbs 1:8

Proverbs 31:1

Song of Solomon 3:10-11

Song of Solomon 8:2

Judges 4-5 (Deborah & Jael)

2 Chronicles 29:1-3

Psalm 113:7

Psalm 27:9-11

Isaiah 66:13

Matthew 10:37

Matthew 19:29

Hebrews 11

 

A Journey of Beautiful Survival {a tribute to my mama}

Grandmama and my daughter, her namesake.

My mother and daughter, before Mama was diagnosed with cancer. (At my parent’s lovely home, overlooking the PA farmland).

I’ll always remember the day I got the phone call that my beautiful mama was unconscious, and headed to the hospital. How could it be?! She was the picture of health, and a pillar in her family. The reality of her lying helpless in a hospital bed was an unthinkable truth. One minute she was going about business as usual; full of life. And in an instant, her world as she knew it, came to a screeching halt.

In the hospital - Mama looking beautiful as ever, right before her surgery. (You'd never guess she's wearing a hospital gown!).

In the hospital – Mama looking beautiful as ever, right before her surgery. (You’d never guess she’s wearing a hospital gown!).

This weekend marks the two year anniversary of my mother’s admittance to the hospital where after many weeks, many tests, and a brain biopsy later, doctors discovered she had an inoperable, cancerous, brain tumor on the left frontal lobe. We treasured every moment at the hospital with our sweet Mama.

Mama (after her biopsy), with her two youngest sons

Mama (after her biopsy), with her two youngest sons

Mama with the boys

Mama with the boys

Holding one of her precious granddaughters, during the hospital stay.

Holding one of her precious granddaughters, during the hospital stay.

Daddy and Mama with some of the beautiful flowers family and friends sent to the hospital.

Daddy and Mama with some of the beautiful flowers family and friends sent to the hospital.

Over the past two years mother has battled cancer in the most resplendent manner. Her strength of character through an incredibly formidable season of life is truly inspiring. She has been offered every opportunity to lay down and give up; to surrender to the darkness. But she has done quite the opposite. She continues to live, love, dream and hope.

Leaving the hospital!

Leaving the hospital!

My daughter & Grandmama visiting the ACS for a wig fitting, after Mama’s surgery and radiation took her hair.

You see, the building of my mother’s character began long before January, 2011. Because of her deep rooted faith, her identity is not in her diagnosis, but in the story her heavenly Father has planned for her life – which (in all the years I’ve been alive and witnessed it) has been a journey of seeking, knowing, serving and loving her Maker.

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Mama, as a first grader

Mama was born into an Amish family, and raised on a picturesque farm in Lancaster County, PA. She lived a delightful childhood and never lacked for anything. But despite her life’s quaint and captivating appearance, it was marred with difficulty and suffering. I can see that the hardships she endured (and how she witnessed my grandparents walking through their painful experiences with in deep faith), prepared her for life ahead.

The Farmhouse where my mother grew up with her family

The farmhouse where my mother grew up with her family

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Daddy and Mama as a young married couple

My parents were married in 1974. Their marriage is a portrait of true, sacrificial love and devotion. In 1981, they moved to Texas with 4 small children, and started a family homestead which they built from the ground up. We spent 13 years there, and I witnessed my parents nuture relationships and community with people from all walks of life, as they lovingly and carefully raised and homeschooled us children.

Family Pic

Family Photo in the mid ’80’s

Growing up with my mother was an experience for which I’m eternally grateful. She is the true renaissance woman. As a child I believed she could do nearly ANYTHING, and do it well. As an adult, my opinion hasn’t changed! She has a God-given ability to see and draw out the beauty in everything she touches, and anyone she knows. From our little home built by my Daddy on the landscape of Texas pastureland long ago, to banquets for the worlds VIP’s (after her children were grown), her touches of artistry and outstanding gift of hospitality never fail to leave the world a better place.

Tea Party at Grandmama's house.

Tea Party at Grandmama’s house.

Mama is a lover of Jesus, her husband and family, and anyone around her, and a worshiper of God, in every facet of her life. She is a reader, a dreamer, a goal-setter. She is an artist, a designer and a florist. She is a gardener, a keeper of the lost arts and a farmer. She is a songbird, a lover of poetry, and a history-buff. She is homemaker extraordinaire and a business woman. She is a health connoisseur. She is a leader, a teacher, a model wife, and a most excellent mother. She is a woman who passionately LIVES what she believes, and doesn’t just talk about it.

One of the things I am most grateful for, is my mother’s pioneering spirit in the arena of homeschooling. My parents chose to educate us at home before they even knew such a concept existed. What a gift they gave us!

One of my favorite photos of Mama, with her foster son Terry.

One of my favorite photos of Mama, with her foster son Terry.

My mother and father have walked through the past two years with strength and fortitude that can only come through faith, and I know their story has many more wondrous chapters that remain to be played out. This quote perfectly sums up the way they live each day:

“Teach me to treat all that comes to me with peace of soul and with firm conviction that Your will governs all.”~ Elisabeth Elliot

Survivor Photo Shoot, by Dajay Art Photography

Survivor Photo Shoot, by Dajay Art Photography

In addition to the steadfastness and love displayed by my parents, one of the most treasured things to witness has been the outpouring of love from people all around our family, from all across the country, and all walks of life. Cancer brings with it a complete disruption of normal routines, and our lovely family and friends have been beside my parents, their children and grandchildren every single step of the way.

A family luncheon at cousin Rachel's house

A family luncheon at cousin Rachel’s house

Delicious meals, car rides, open hearts and homes, cards, letters, notes, flowers, gifts, words of experience and encouragement, plane tickets, childcare and most importantly, prayers. Words cannot begin to express our family’s deep gratitude.

Mama and Daddy several years ago, with their six children and 10 of their now sixteen grandchildren.

Mama and Daddy several years ago, with their six children and 10 of their (now sixteen) grandchildren.

In closing; Mama, I call you blessed! You are the kind of mother that books are written about. You are my friend, my teacher and my hero. The fruits of the Spirit are evident in every arena of your life. I want to be like you when I grow up! May God continue to guide you and carry you in every moment of your beautiful journey. May you “…be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.”

Forever grateful to God for my mother, ~ Justina Dee

“Survivor Photo” by DaJay Art Photography

Scripture Reference: Psalm 1:2-4, KJV

 

These Ladies Are Stirring Things Up!

With Maurine & Kristen, of Mercy House Kenya

With Maurine & Kristen, of Mercy House Kenya

Every once in a while, you encounter someone who causes you to no longer be comfortable with the current state of your affairs. These people share stories and experiences that pry open your heart to the truth that God uses regular, ordinary, common, everyday people, who refuse to close their eyes to the hurt, pain and darkness in our world – to change the world.

These people stir things up. Their lives and actions say that normal is not OK. Apathy is not OK.  They’ve erased complacency from their lives, and instead say, “how can I do more”. They are dreamers and leaders, who partner with God, and in turn, demand action from those around them.

“Leaders establish the vision for the future and set the strategy for getting there; they cause change. They motivate and inspire others to go in the right direction and they, along with everyone else, sacrifice to get there.” ~ John Kotter

Yesterday our church family had the privilege and honor of sharing a luncheon with Maurine Owino, (Executive Director of Mercy House Kenya), and our friends, the Welch Family (Co-founders of Mercy House, with We Are That Family Blog). They shared with us the story of Mercy House. (Mercy House cares for women and children who were destitute, living on the streets and in the slums of Kenya. You can read all about it at the links I’ve shared below).

When my husband, daughter and I left the luncheon, we were very uncomfortable. In the best sort of way. You see, Maurine and the Welch Family did something the Bible says we should do. Not only are they caring for beautiful women and children in Nairobi, Kenya, but through their loving actions, they are inspiring others and shifting things, here in suburban America. They’re stirring up mercy, compassion, love and action. They’re doing exactly what the Bible tells believers to do!

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works” Hebrews 10:24, ESV

Our little family has some ideas we’ve been talking about doing. We’ve even begun to take steps towards making them happen. But after yesterday, we have no more excuses. Kristen Welch shared something that reminded me of this quote:

“When a poor person dies of hunger it has not happened because God did not take care of him or her. It has happened because neither you nor I wanted to give that person what he or she needed.” ~ Mother Teresa

I’m excited to keep you posted on the progress of our family’s journey. Now I ask, what are the things YOU can do for the people who desperately need our help? Opportunities to help them (and support those who are “in the trenches”) are all around us, and we have no excuses. Let’s go “stir things up”, in our world!

~ Justina Dee

Find out more about Mercy House Kenya by clicking here

Meet the Welch Family here: We Are That Family

We LOVE the beautiful products made by the young women at Mercy House, and proudly display them in our home. It gives us the opportunity to remember them, pray for them, and tell others the story about what Maurine and The Welch family are doing! There are many ways you can support their work. Click here for more information: How You Can Help

 

 

The Difficult Path

the_princess_path

Once upon a time a Great King had a daughter.  When she was young, he sent her on a journey with two things; a bag of rare and precious seeds, and a map. The princess didn’t know what kind of seeds were in her bag. She didn’t know exactly where the map would guide her. But she was vibrant and full of delight, jubilant to serve a noble purpose on this important journey.

Along the first road of her journey, the young princess was full of wonder and delight. There were magnificent things to see, much knowledge and wisdom to acquire, and countless songs to sing. Discovery was everywhere along this path. The sights were beautiful. There was nothing and no one, who could dampen her spirit. Her cup was brimming and overflowing with enthusiasm and rapturous joy.

A menacing enemy lurked in the shadows, throwing dark arrows at her, which would have crushed anyone else. But the enemy’s arrows did not thwart this princess. She was resilient. Whenever the dark arrows came her way, she would sing, and laugh at them. The princess cheerfully scattered seeds all along this road, and continued on her journey.

The king’s map led the princess to a new road she had never seen before. This road required an abundance of commitment and discipline. At times the terrain was smooth, and at times it was arduous. She looked around her, and the roads others were taking, didn’t seem nearly as formidable as hers. But she remembered the words of her father, the king who had told her, “To whom much is given, much is required. I have many seeds for you to plant, and many things for you to do. Always remember you’re on your Father’s business”.

There were many people along this road who needed her assistance. The princess stopped along this path many times, sharing, and helping all in need, in whatever way she could. She continued to sing. Her songs brought hope, peace, comfort, strength and victory to everyone she encountered.

She rose early, and she burned her candle and watched deep into the night. She heard stories and learned many things, becoming wise along her way. She wondered what the end of her destination looked like, but didn’t have much time to think about it, as she had much to do. Everyone who lived in this region heard of the princess, who was traveling through the land. She was needed and admired by all whom she met. Rich, poor, famous, meek, she knew and loved them all. She told people all along the way about her great Father, the king, and shared with them marvelous stories about how much he loved her, and all the people of the land. The princess thoughtfully planted seeds from her bag, all along this road, and continued in her journey.

Next, the king’s map directed his princess to a road that led directly to a looming mountain. As she began to walk this treacherous path, she was filled with fear and dread, the like of which she had never known. The nights were long and nearly unbearable. When day finally came, there was sunlight, but she caught only glimpses of its warmth through the menacing, rocky crags. There were flowers, but they were few, and far between. One by one, all the people whom she knew and loved left her side; as this path was either too difficult for them to climb, or their journey led elsewhere. Some whom she had served even began to accuse her of abandoning them. She longed for companionship and comfort. She never doubted her Father’s love, but at times she questioned the directions on the map.

The princess continued to sing, but her music was sung through tears. There were moments when memories of earlier days brought much comfort, but they also brought sorrow, because she longed for those times to return. The enemy who had lurked in the shadows in earlier parts of her journey, now advanced with full force. He pelted her with arrow after arrow. Some hurt her body. Some brought acute and intense pain to her very soul. The princess was noble, but her steps began to falter. She longed to find a dark and quiet cave where she could retreat in peace. This journey seemed more than she could bear. She feebly planted seeds all along this road. And because she was a daughter of the King, she continued her journey.

The treacherous path made a turn, and brought the princess to a barren wilderness. The ground was parched and dry, and planting the seeds now became more difficult than ever. The princess was so thirsty she could barely whisper, let alone sing. She was so exhausted that she couldn’t take another step, and she collapsed along the road into a heap. As the night came, she felt terror and fear grip her from every side. The darkness brought cool relief from the scorching sun, but she was alone, and began to shiver with cold and dread of the night. Tears rolled down her cold, numb cheeks and she sobbed, until she couldn’t cry anymore.

As she lay on the cold ground, she heard her father’s voice. He was singing over her. A flicker of warmth and hope rose deep in her heart. She found the strength to sit up and listen. Her father came near and held her close, and told her how much he loved her.

You must go on”, said the king. “Father, I am willing”, she cried. “My heart is willing. My mind is willing, but my body is so weak and I feel I simply cannot do it. Can I not just sit here and rest with you forever? This is where I want to be. Here in your arms”. Her father smiled. “I love that you want to be with me”, he said. “I am with you always. I never said the journey would be easy. To all whom I send on the journey, I give a bag of seeds. Some say it’s too heavy, and put it down. Some waste the seeds in gardens not mine. But you, my beautiful daughter, have been faithful with the task of planting the seeds you’ve been given. Lift up your head. You have more seeds to plant. My yoke is easy and my burden is light. I will strengthen you, and provide you with everything you need to finish your journey”.

The king gently led the princess to a high rock and stood beside her while he gave her a glimpse into his story. She could see the every road of her journey. She saw exquisite flowers blooming, and an abundance of fruit in every place her feet had walked. Peace reigned in places where seeds were sown. Love ruled in places where seeds were sown. There was joy and there was laughter where the seeds had been sown. Those who she served were all along the way, singing beautiful songs, and telling stories of the king’s love. The children and weak people she had tenderly cared for, rose up and called her blessed. Her faithful nurturing had led them to the path of the kingdom. Her eyes opened in astonishment when she saw some of the most destitute strangers who she had lovingly served with her hospitality were actually angels! In addition, seeds from the flowers she had planted, were now blooming all across the world.

The Father spread out a heavenly feast for the princess, and as she ate, he told her how much he loved her. “Now go”, he said. “There are others I need you to guide on this path. Many are lost, and I have sent you to seek them out and show them my love. You are revealing my love and my kingdom to them. There is rejoicing in heaven every time a lost child is found. You will come out of this wilderness, leaning on my strong, mighty and gentle arm, and when you have completed your journey on the difficult path, I will welcome you to the place I have prepared for you, where you will live with me forever. Many are called, but you, my beautiful daughter have been chosen”.

*This story is dedicated to several beautiful women I know, who are faithfully serving their Father, the King, through the most trying of circumstances. Even when life is full of pain and it doesn’t look the way they thought it would look, they continue to bless me and countless others as they share Christ’s love with us. I hope you are encouraged to continue on your journey, and fight the good fight as you read my little story. Following is a list of scriptures I allude to within the words. With love, ~Justina Dee

2 Corinthians 4

1 Peter 5:7-9

Luke 12:48

Matthew 28:20

Matthew 11:30

Proverbs 31:28

Hebrews 13:2

Zephaniah 3:17

 

Song of Solomon 8:5

John 14:1-3

John 3:16

Matthew 22:14

 

Influencers – My dedication post

She held me and taught me what unconditional love looks and feels like. She cared for me when I had the chicken pox. She soothed me as a young girl, when I felt the wounds of unkind words. She instilled in me an insatiable desire to learn.

She told me you’re ready to marry when you can roll a pie crust into a circle. She taught me how to whistle and sing while I work, how to make butter, and how to iron sheets. And she helped me to see there’s a reason to bless God in every circumstance. Her love  and of  people from every walk of life was contagious.

She taught me what it looks like to honor your husband, and how to care for a kerosene lantern. How to make homemade lemonade and peanut butter crackers. How to appreciate even the tiniest treasures in God’s creation.

These three women are my mother and my grandmothers. This blog is dedicated to them, and to all the “Influencers” in my life.

I’m learning some of my greatest life-lessons from people who have no blog. No book. No platform. And I’ve also gleaned much wisdom from people who are much more well known.

LydiaGlick.com is an effort to compile and share some of this wisdom, information, and  some of these treasures with my children, my friends, and anyone else who cares to read the words I type.

It’s all for the glory of my Jesus – my greatest influencer of all. And it is done with the loving support of my dear husband, who is my superhero, and my beautiful gift of a daughter, who is the fairest of them all.

With love, ~ Justina Dee