Updated: Dec 1, 2021
I have a lot of similar characteristics as my mother. Her delight in winter weather, a good cup of coffee, and all things warm and cozy. Her weakness for TJ Maxx and anything sweet and gooey. Her appreciation of words and good books, pretty bedding and pajamas. Her way of invariably clearing her throat throughout the morning, and the manner in which she frequently positions her hand on her face's side while she sleeps. Her tendency to be the first to criticize her own cooking when she believes it's not up to standard and be the first to compliment it when she knows it is. Her love of the color white.
But of all the traits listed and not listed (those that are favorable and even those not so), which my precious mother has influenced in me, it's the habit of beginning each day in God's Word that is, unquestionably, the greatest inheritance she has bequeathed to me, her most beloved daughter.
Some of my earliest childhood memories of my mother include our dining room table, a peach-colored robe, a cup of coffee, and a big black Bible. Always, a writing notebook and pen lay right beside. This was my mother's constant morning routine throughout my growing up years. I don't know of any other way my mom began her day, other than in this habitual, disciplined manner. I know that both my brothers would agree.
The Word of God wasn't a mere check off of her to-do list, either. No, all who personally knew her knew it was her strength's source and faith's fuel. Her daily lifeline. Truly, the great love letter from the Lover of her Soul. Fifty years later, it still is. Just like Peter's response to Jesus when the Teacher asked the Twelve if they wanted to abandon him, as others had done—"Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life."—for my mom, there was no other way in which to live her Christian journey but in the words that spoke life into her soul and circumstances.
This reverence for the Word's utmost priority my mother had observed in her own dear mother, Frankie Marie Pettry—the maternal grandmother I never knew, since she had died in her forties after succumbing to a lengthy, arduous battle with leukemia. The year was 1959.
My mom was just sixteen years old.
But in the twelve years that my mom had witnessed her mother radically live for Christ—while simultaneously living a tremendously hard life in so many ways—my mom was deeply impacted by her mother's intense love for the Word, demonstrated in her daily consumption and perpetual sharing of it. In the relatively short time her mother was a Christian, all who knew Frankie knew she was a life transformed. An authentic disciple. The real deal. The very first in her family to discover the sweetness of the Savior, her life and witness became the catalyst for many others coming to Christ, not just in her lifetime but in the generations that followed.
I'm eternally grateful that Frankie Marie's morning mother's habit was time spent reading and meditating upon God's Word. So very grateful that this was the warp and woof of her life and legacy and that it left an impressionable mark upon her daughter, my own dear mother, who came to Christ in her late twenties when I was about three years old. Though my mother's mother was taken too prematurely from her, this spiritual branding was forever seared in my mother's heart and mind.
And over time. . .as the Spirit chased and called, as he wooed and won her, she became a student and lover of God's Word.
Just as her mother before.
I have no doubt, no doubt whatsoever, that my love of God's most treasured Word, and my understanding of my immense, never-ending need of it in my daily life goes back to the grandmother I never had the pleasure of meeting, this side of Heaven. I have no doubt that her daily discipline is my backstory. Her holy habit the wellspring of my present-day hope.
The fruit she would never live to see was a daughter who would come to love God's Word, and. . .a daughter's daughter as well. It's a legacy, a spiritual heirloom of incalculable value, which I sincerely pray I pass on to my own three children.
As my mother and grandmother did for me.
King David, a zealous lover of God's words, once said, "Oh taste and see that the Lord is good" (Psalm 34:8). Truly, it's when we taste the Lord through the consumption of his magnificent Word that we find we just can't get enough of the words that are "sweeter than honey" (Psalm 119:103). That we discover that we're never satisfied, never filled up
amply—that we're always wanting, always thirsting, always in need of more. It's when we taste the Lord's goodness, as we come to know and experience him through the pages of Holy Inspiration, that we realize that no matter how many years we've read and studied the Bible, we will never exhaust all of its truth and wisdom, all of its wonder and sheer delight.
And we come to understand that we will never outgrow our unending need of its divinely inspired counsel, correction, and comfort in our daily lives.
So, this day and every day, I'm so very grateful that I'm the daughter of a daughter of a mother whose life and legacy authenticated a genuine love and daily need of God's Word.
Thank you, Mamaw Frankie, for this most treasured heirloom.
Your holy habit continues on.