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Saturday, October 29, 2011

My Grandmother's Faith



I have one more “Gramma” story I want to share with you today. I pray this true testimony of God’s touch on my grandmother’s life will strum on your heartstrings and jumpstart you to document your family’s amazing story.
My grandmother had only a fifth grade education, but she graduated valedictorian from the University of Adversity. She was the firstborn child of alcoholic parents. Some of the trauma she endured left gaping holes in her soul. Her deep inner pain caused her to cry out to God as a young wife and mother, and she discovered the power in prayer.

As a young child, I realized God had given my Grandma mountain-moving faith. When she prayed, God showed up. There is one memory etched in my mind’s eye I’d like to share with you today.
My mother, Bonnie, was Grandma's second child. She suffered with bouts of severe depression and had to be hospitalized on numerous occasions. After another suicide attempt, our family was summoned to the emergency room. Grandma quickly found a place to pray. She wasn't gone very long and had an unusual bounce in her step when she returned. “The Lord spoke to me today. He told me Bonnie will live and not die. She is going to play her violin for Jesus in church one day."

I didn’t say anything aloud, but thoughts were buzzing in my 11-year-old head. But Grandma, how will Mom ever play her violin in church when she doesn’t even attend church?
My thoughts were interrupted by the doctor’s stern voice. "I think we saved her this time, but one of these times she will get the job done. You need to prepare yourselves for what’s ahead."

Grandma, who was usually mild-mannered and polite, bolted from her chair. Pointing her crooked finger in his chest, she barked, "Now you listen to me, Doc. My girl is not going to die, but live and play her violin for Jesus in church."

An awkward silence enveloped the room. The doctor shook his head and made a hasty exit. “Religious nut! Mental illness must run in the family.”
Mom’s depression increased and there were more hospitalizations and suicide attempts. I often heard my grandmother reminding the Lord, “You promised I would see her play the violin for You.”
When I was 16, my mother met a retired pastor's wife who had battled crippling depression. This woman took a keen interest in my mother and tenderly led her into a loving relationship with Jesus.

Mom became a faithful member of a Bible-believing church. One Saturday she announced, "I've been invited to play my violin for special music in church."

Grandma let out a victory yelp and danced a jig. “I’m sitting on the front pew.”

I have been in fulltime ministry for more than thirty years. I've learned much from Bible college and ministry experiences, but it was watching my grandmother's life that taught me the most about the power of prayer. She gave me a sample, a living example, of how an ordinary woman with a simple faith in an extraordinary God can move mountains.

Grandma resides in heaven, but my precious mother is still living. She will soon be 80, and on special occasions still plays her violin for Jesus.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Get in Your "Write" Mind


Great-Grandmother Ada Stillion



And then God answered: "Write this.
Write what you see.
Write it out in big block letters
so that it can be read on the run.” Habakkuk 2:2 MSG

On my past blogs, I have shared samples of some of the stories I have written for my family. After my grandmothers’ passing, I realized much of their legacy would be lost if someone didn’t document their stories. The great-great-grandbabies being born now might never know how our family came to Christ. I wanted to document as much of it as I could.

I’d like to point out that you don’t have to be a Karen Kingsbury to write your family’s story. Just start writing. Don’t dwell too much on proper language mechanics. Just get your story on paper. There are people with large gifts of writing who can help you bring your story to life.  The main thing is for you to dust off your keyboard or pick up your pen and get busy writing. Your family will thank you.

After a loved one has died, I’ve never heard adult children say, “They wrote down too many things. I don’t have time to read all the stories they jotted down.” But I have heard many of them say, “Oh, I wish I would have had my grandmother write down that funny story or favorite recipe. Man, I’d give anything to ask Grandma about that!”

You have a story and even possibly a book inside you. Don’t listen to anyone or anything that tries to insinuate you are not smart enough! Time is marching on. Soon it will be too late. Begin today. Your family will be very thankful for the gift you’ve left for them. Get in your “write” mind today.

I would like to share my great-grandmother’s testimony with you. Six generations have been influenced for Jesus because of her choice to follow Christ. One woman, one choice, and six generations! Amazing, isn’t it? I hope you enjoy the story of my great-grandmother Ada Stillion.

One Woman, One Choice, Six Generations

Ada poured the last few drops of the bottle of rubbing alcohol into her cup of coffee. Taking a big gulp, she growled at her husband, “Ed, we're out of moonshine, and I've used the last of my rubbing alcohol to stop these tremors!”

Edward hissed back, “Addie, you best get on down to your brother Mel's house and get us some more brew. We're low on cash, and if we could do some bootlegging, it might help get us caught up.”

Ada's brother lived in Metropolis, Illinois, eight hours away from the small town in Iowa where Ada’s family lived. Every few months Ada and her daughter, Nettie, would take a trip to load up on some of Kentucky’s white lightning. They would bring some home and sell most of it to their kinfolks, who were slaves to whiskey too, but this trip God had something else planned for forty-five-year-old Ada Stillion, something that would change her life forever.

“Mel, it's so good to see you!” Ada cooed as she hugged her older brother.

“Ada!” Mel exclaimed. “So much has happened to my family since we last saw you.”

“You got any good whiskey?” Ada asked. “I'm spitting cotton. Let's sit down and have a stiff drink and then you can tell me all about it.”

“Addie, I don't drink anymore.” Mel shook his head. “You'll find no whiskey in our house! I've met Jesus!”

Ada shot back, “Are you trying to tell me that you done got religion?”

“No, Addie! I met Jesus.” Mel reached for his sister’s hand. “Tonight we're having revival meetings at our church. Oh, Addie, you've just got to come. I have found what we've been searching for.”

“Church? You want me to go to church?” Ada’s eyebrows stood at attention. “I ain’t never been to church in my life!”

Nettie stiffened and poked her elbow in Ada’s side. “Ma and me are going to Kentucky tonight. We've got some important business to tend to. Don't we, Ma?”

Mel's moist eyes met Ada's. “Please come. You’ll find what we’ve been looking for our whole lives.”


“Well, I guess going to one church service ain't gonna kill us,” Ada chuckled. “What time should we be ready?”

“Seven o’clock sharp!” Mel let out a whoop.

                                                                        *****
“Listen to that beautiful singing!” Ada motioned for Nettie to sit on the back pew. “Have you ever heard such singing?”

Nettie snarled, “Don’t know why they are singing about blood. That’s kind of gory, don’t you think, Ma?”

Ada pressed her finger to her lips. “Shhhhh. Listen!”

What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the Blood of Jesus!
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the Blood of Jesus!


Ada sat mesmerized by what she heard and felt.

After the singing a minister stood behind the pulpit. “We all are sinners and need a Savior.”

Ada had flashbacks of her daughters and how alcohol had robbed them of a decent childhood.

The pastor invited all who wanted their sins forgiven to come forward and kneel at the altar. Ada stood to her feet, walked down the aisle, and knelt at the altar. The minister prayed with her and then asked her if she would like to pray.

Tears poured down Ada’s cheeks. She called out to God for the first time in her life. “Lord, forgive me of my sins and make me worthy to be called mother.”

When Ada stood to her feet, she knew she was a new creature in Christ. Old things had passed away and all things were new!

“Nettie, we aren’t going to Kentucky to buy any whiskey!” The trip to Kentucky was canceled. Ada never touched another drop of liquor the rest of her days. She lived to be ninety-two years old and shared her salvation experience with anyone who would listen.

Ada Stillion was my great-grandmother. Her decision to follow Christ has impacted six generations. She followed the Lord. Her daughter accepted Jesus. Her granddaughter invited the Lord into her heart. Her great-granddaughter committed her life to Jesus. Her great-great-granddaughter dedicated her heart and life to the Lord, and even Ada’s great-great-great granddaughter has given her life to Christ.

Great-Grandmother could have left our family a legacy of alcoholism and abuse; instead she left us a legacy of God's amazing love. God answered her prayer and made her worthy to be called Mother. In fact, He made her a spiritual mother of many.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Moses Was a Basket Case

Then Pharaoh gave this order to all his people: “Every Hebrew boy that is born you must throw into the Nile….” Exodus 1:22 NIV

I love the biblical account of an infant boy named Moses. Satan conjured up a plan to kill him, but God was watching over the little guy. Jehovah gave Moses’ mother a creative plan to save her baby’s life. She built a basket made out of bulrushes and coated it with pitch.

When she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him for three months. But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile. His sister stood at a distance to see what would happen to him. Exodus 2:2-4 NIV

Even though Moses was a “basket case,” he grew into a mighty man of God and was handpicked by Jehovah to deliver the Israelites from the land of bondage.

My husband and I have been in fulltime ministry for more than 30 years. We have seen firsthand the enemy sabotage ministries in their infancy. We’ve stood in the gap with those God has called for a heavenly assignment and rejoiced with those who fulfill their divine destiny, but our hearts have broken when we watched others allow the wicked one to snuff out a brand new ministry God had called them to.

I would like to speak directly to those of you who sense the Lord is calling you to “birth” a new ministry, whether it is writing, singing, pastoring, or something else the Lord has laid upon your heart.

  • Always ask God for wisdom as you begin this new chapter in your life.
  • Never lean on your own understanding. It doesn’t matter how smart and experienced you may think you are, in your natural fleshly nature you are no match for the devil.
  • Never be shocked by the enemy’s tactics. Remember his goal is to kill every newborn ministry.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10 NIV

Don't let the enemy destroy what God is “birthing” in your life and ministry. Remember the story of Moses. May God use you to lead souls out of bondage.

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