Finding Faith and Fall with a Five-Year-Old Child

It never occurred to me that five-year-old Rilynn would give me a greater gift than I could ever give her.

Our daughter Katie remarried in 2014 and became a stepmom. Katie and her husband decided Rick and I would be called “Grand Pa Rick and Grand Ma Jewels.” It’s an honor to become anyone’s grandmother, but it’s especially sweet when God brings a child into your life in such a surprising way.

A few weeks ago, Katie asked if we could keep Rilynn for the weekend. I told her, yes, yes, yes a million yeses. It was the first time she’d spent the night with us.

My first assignment as being a grandmother. 

I wanted her to feel comfortable with us.

I wanted to do everything right.

It’d been so many years since a child had stayed in our home. Our youngest is 25. And he’s a boy.

Think, think, think. What do five-year-old little girls like to do? 

I ran to the store and bought Play-Doh and paints and coloring books.

Whew. She loves to paint. 🙂

Grand Pa Rick taught her how to make a turkey. Y’all know I’m not craftsy. This was all him!

(He also built her a dollhouse for her fourth birthday.)

They gathered eggs. There was only one, but it was the perfect number for her little hands to carry.

She wanted to see Grand Pa Rick’s garden–even though there was nothing growing but weeds. To her, they were beautiful.

Everything was.

Later that day, I showed her pretend leaves on the porch. She wanted to see real ones.

I grabbed a brown paper sack and we headed to the woods behind our house. Of course, Clyde and Ellie came too.

Because Rilynn was with me, the woods became an enchanted forest. 

“The leaves change colors every October,” I said. “Why don’t we pick out our favorite ones? You can take them home with you.”

“Really? I can keep them?”

“Sure, as many as you want.”

“Look! Grand Ma Jewels, two yellow ones!”

“What’s that?” she said.

“It’s an old tree stump. God lets animals live in it when it’s cold.”

She peered inside. “That’s nice of Him.”


We walked a few feet down the path. “What’s this?”

“It’s a tiny pine tree. One day, it’ll be all grown up.”

You will too. Life goes so fast. I used to be five.

“What kind of leaf is this?”

To me, the leaf wasn’t pretty at all. It was huge and brown and ugly–so dry, its edges curled. “I think it’s from this big oak tree.”

“I like it.” She put it in her sack. “What’s this, Grand Ma Jewels?” She handed me an acorn.

I hadn’t thought about acorns in years–even though our driveway was covered in them.  

I’d stomped on them.

Crushed them with my feet. 

Driven over them.

Saw them as a nuisance. 

“Sweetie, it’s an acorn. God made it. And somehow, He makes acorns grow into giant oak trees.”

She nodded as if the miracle made perfect sense. Gathering a dozen or so, she stuffed them into her sack. 

Then I picked one up and examined the impossibly small thing.

How’d you do it, Lord? You packed the miracle of life inside this hard brown shell.  Rilynn believed quickly–with all her heart. She never doubted.

If I could have a tiny portion of this child’s perfect faith…

Following her down the path toward home, I put the acorn in my pocket, a seed of rugged faith growing inside me.

 With God–and only with God–all things are possible. Borrowed from Matthew 19:26 click to tweet

Have you ever been blown away by God’s enormous size, and yet He’s involved in the intricate details of our lives?













Remembering Mama

That’s my grandmother Goge holding me. My mother’s mother.  I  remember looking at the magical doll birthday cake and thinking, Wow, Goge thinks I’m pretty special.

She loved my mother the same way.

Yesterday I said, “Mother, what did Goge do to make your childhood so wonderful?”

Goge worked fulltime. Her husband, Mother’s daddy, died when my mom was two.

Here’s what Mother said…so sweet!

I felt intense unconditional love from my mother.

She never stopped smiling at me. 

Every time we saw each other, she looked like she was glad to see me. 

She acted like I was so much fun to be with.

She only had to work half a day on Wednesdays. After work, she put on her shorts and we ran to Sleepy Hollow–a secret place in the woods full of moss and tall trees. All my girlfriends thought it was wonderful. I didn’t know just how wonderful it was until I was grown.

We had one bedroom in our rented apartment. Mother and I slept in the same bed until I was 11 or 12. She bought me a used five dollar roll-away bed, and let me decorate my corner of our bedroom however I wanted to. I ripped out pictures of movie stars from magazines and taped them to the wall.

Sometimes I met her for lunch on the square. We couldn’t cross the street until the light changed so we waved real big at each other while we waited. She always came to my side of the street and hugged me.

When I was 16 she threw  me a “Prom Party.” We set up card tables in the front yard and decorated them with Dorothy Perkins roses that bloomed behind our apartment. We served pink, yellow, green, and white mints, cheese straws, and pink punch with a floating ice ring. I wore a dress our neighbor made–white dotted swiss with lots of crenolines. 

The day my black cocker spaniel named Laddie died, Mother cried with me while we held him.

That’s the only time I ever saw my mother cry.

We don’t forget that kind of love, do we?

Love well. It lasts a lifetime. click to tweet

Do you have a special mother, grandmother, aunt, sister, friend memory to share? Do tell!





My Mother and Me

A recent phone conversation between Mother and me…

“I dream about my childhood almost every night,” Mother said. “I miss my mother. In my dreams, I’m with her again. As a child, I thought everybody’s mother was wonderful like mine.”

“Goge (our name for my grandmother) went through some hard stuff, but I never heard her complain. Every single time we were together, she made me laugh. She never mentioned herself or her problems. She just loved on me.”

Goge and me--my 34th birthday

“Your grandmother wore a white eylet dress to my daddy’s funeral when I wasn’t quite two. She was 27. May 18, 1938. Back then, widows wore the traditional black dress. That white eyelet dress was Daddy’s favorite. Mother didn’t care what anybody thought.”

“Goge was ahead of her time.”

“She had Wednesday afternoons off from work. When it was pretty outside, your grandmother walked home from work and put on shorts like mine. My friends came over and Goge  walked with us to Sleepy Hollow–a lush green hide-away deep in the woods–amazingly cool on hot summer days. Clear, pure water to swim in. She packed peanut butter crackers and small bottled Cokes.”

“She really wanted to be with you, didn’t she?”

“More than anything.”

“Remember how she peeled an orange?” I said. “She’d sit beside me, laughing and talking the whole time, and take off every piece of skin. Even the yucky white stuff. Then she’d divide it into sections, and arrange it on a plate for me. So much love in everything she did.”

“And cutting a watermelon was like a festival. She’d laugh expectantly, so I did too. It made a marvelous cracking sound as she slicked it open on newspaper. Then she’d say, “Oh Mannie, we’ve got a good one. And she’d cut a chunk right out of the center for me.”

“She gave you all that mattered in life.”

“I wish I could do it all over again,” Mother said softly. “I’d be more like her.”