Habits

Death is a time for introspection.  I recently experienced 10 days of in-depth reflection as my grandmother, Iris Hoffman, slowly transitioned from this broken life into God’s glorious rest.

My little sister recently wrote a blog post sharing her experience of God’s comfort and peace that came over her.  If you would like to read her thoughts, here is the link:

http://www.thevillagechurch.net/the-village-blog/peace-amid-suffering/

What I found myself asking was a simple question – what will my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren remember me for?  How about the people that I am in ministry with and minister to?  Or my local community?

This series of questions got me to thinking about habits – I know, odd but let me explain.

Butler, Missouri is a special place for me and most of my siblings.  About 2 miles northeast of town is a parcel of land – 100 acres that has been in my family for more than 4 generations.  As kids it was our world of exploration and play; it was our place to ride horses and fish.  And it was our place to learn the value of work before fun.

Our great grandmother, Amy Pyle, who was my grandma Iris’s mother, was a woman of remarkable habits.  I will do my best to recite some of them for you.  She was a multi-talented homemaker and cook.  She made the world’s best potroast and spice cake.  She kept a garden and canned green beans and tomatoes.

She had her morning routine – it was the same everyday.  Rise early to fix my great-grandfather, Dewey Pyle, his eggs and bacon breakfast.  Then she would dress and fix her hair.  After that she would begin her daily routine of housework, gardening, cooking, mending, and spiritual disciplines.  She would read her Bible each morning and then pray for members of her church, her community, and her family.  She shared that habit with each of us kids.

She also listened to the radio all day long.  My great-grandparents owned a television that was a small 19 inch black and white.  It had long rabit-ears on it and sat on a thin metal rolling cart.  (Some of you know exactly what I am describing and others of you probably have no earthly idea.  The point is this – it was only on during the evening news.)  It was used for about 30 minutes to an hour each day so my great-grandfather could watch the news.  My great-grandmother didn’t watch television; she listened to the radio.

I heard some of the great preachers and programs of the 1960’s and 70’s.  J. Vernon McGee and his very distinctive voice and preaching style filled the room for an hour each day.  Open Door Bible program was another.  It was 8 hours a day of preaching, teaching, and singing that filled the rooms of my great-grandparent’s home.  This was her habit and it is what I remember the most about her.

The time that I had to hold my grandmother Iris’s hand while she lay in a hospital bed in Butler was time that I will remember.  It was a pivotal moment – a time to reflect about habits.  Hers, her mom’s, mine…

The beauty of God’s grace is the power that it can have in our lives.  Not only is God doing everything He can to draw us to Him, God has made a way for us to have new life through Jesus Christ.  But that isn’t the end of it – God has the power to transform our lives from our purposes to His, from worldly habits to ones that will honor and glorify Him.

My hearts desire is that I will be known for my habits – the habits that reflect the love and grace of God that dwells within me and flows out of me to the world.  Am I there yet?  Nope.  But I hope that someday my kids, my grandkids, and my great grandchildren will come to hold my hand as I travel the last days of my earthly life and they will recall and reflect on my habits – I hope they point them to God.

To my grandmother Iris – thank you for the gift of your love, your wit, and your strong will to be a faithful follower of Jesus Christ.  I think you picked up on some of your mom’s best habits!  For now, rest well in the arms of our Savior.  Before you know it, we will see you again.

To my friends, I leave you with this question – what is it that you want your kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids to remember you for?

About Jim Hoffman

Pastor, teacher, leader, novice blogger, wanna be author and Christian conversationalist. Passionate about environmental architecture - creating spaces where people can foster new or growing relationships with each other and God. Currently leads a faith community on Ward Parkway in Kansas City and happily married to Margaret. Blessed with four adult children and two grandsons.
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