Fierce Bravery of a Faithful Adventurer

1:42 PM

As we celebrated and I said good-bye for the second time this year to a grandmother, I realized that I come from a long line of strong women.  I'm thankful for the opportunity to share a few words about her with friends and family as we celebrated her life here with us.

This passage reminds me of MawMaw.

Psalm 71:18-24The Message (MSG)
You got me when I was an unformed youth,
    God, and taught me everything I know.
Now I’m telling the world your wonders;
    I’ll keep at it until I’m old and gray.
God, don’t walk off and leave me
    until I get out the news
Of your strong right arm to this world,
    news of your power to the world yet to come,
Your famous and righteous
    ways, O God.
God, you’ve done it all!
    Who is quite like you?
You, who made me stare trouble in the face,
    Turn me around;
Now let me look life in the face.

If you heard the part about this person “keeping at it until they were old and gray.” You might think that’s why it reminds me of MawMaw. And to be honest, I don’t remember a time when my grandma’s hair wasn’t gray/or white, except for the times when I was younger that she’d return home from a trip to the beauty shop—and then her hair was a glowing blue-ish color)--she was my blue-haired MawMaw☺

This passage speaks of someone who is brave.  And anyone who knew MawMaw knew she could stare trouble in the face as the verses say, and with no fear speak exactly what was on her mind.
She was fiercely brave in that way, but she also showed courage in the late 1960s. When both Aunt Trish and Dad were in college she decided to go to school herself to become a nurse. Most people her age today—much less a woman at her age in the 60’s—would have not even attempted something so daunting. But not Maw Maw, she was determined and fierce—ready to stare any challenge in the face.  And for MawMaw being a nurse was not just a profession but a calling. She nursed others to healing in and out of the medical office.

But what really settled her courage for me was when I watched my “blue-haired” grandma climb a latter to a platform 15 feet off the ground to grab a trapeze bar attached to the large oak tree branch above and swing off it—now that was brave for a grandma, but what I really found brave about it was that she did it knowing that my dad had built that trapeze☺

The passage also speaks of a person who understands the importance of exploring the wondrous world and people created by God’s hands. MawMaw placed great value on experiencing the wonders of God’s world, and she believed in sharing those experiences with us.  Whether it was too far away places when she was younger taking Aunt Trish across the globe to Europe—or hopping on a bus with other seniors to places out West like the Grand Canyon or up north to Niagara Falls. She explored Hawaii & and Alaska & many other places.  Her adventures were not only about going to faraway places but about the importance of experiencing life to the fullest.  She drove all three of us grandkids 2 ½ hours just so we could catch a train & have the experience of riding on a train. It wasn’t always easy, she often reminded me that she had to start taking blood pressure medicine after taking us--three bickerings, whining grandkids--to Georgia to visit historical sites like Roosevelt’s personal retreat home, “The Little White House”.

She always cheered me on as I traveled to new places and experienced new things.  In my last extended conversation with MawMaw a few weeks ago, I told her about what some would call a crazy 12-hour round trip drive with 4 kids we had planned to go visit President Carter’s Sunday school class in GA. She told me how proud she was that we made it a priority to give our children opportunities to discover new places and learn new things: and I’m thankful I had the opportunity to tell her, “You taught me that, you know.” She instilled in me & others a passion to explore and experience the wonders of God.

And last, this passage is about a person who was faithful to share about God’s “strong right arm to this world, & the news of God’s power to the world yet to come”. MawMaw did just that with many of us in this room and beyond. She taught me & others about Jesus. Not only have I heard several you speak about her teaching you in Sunday School & what a great teacher she was, but for me, one of my earliest memories of another person praying with me was my MawMaw.  Today, I often think of her warm, very soft and gentle hands wrapped around mine, when I pray with my children.

They say that life is not about the number of breaths you take, but of the moments that take your breath away. On this day, I am proud to say that MawMaw “looked life in the face” & had both a full number of breaths that she took & moments that took her breath away in her 88 years with us.

Mary Alice Penton
July 22, 1927-September 16, 2015

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  1. Beautiful and inspiring. I'm sorry for your loss but thankful that her legacy lives take after her in so many ways!


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