Tuesday, May 14, 2013



This writing’s content is from a talk I gave for Mother’s Day.  
The theme was given to me.  “Out of the Cherry Pit, Walking with God.”  I began my talk with the concept of a cherry, a cherry’s luscious color and taste as representative of the beautiful part of a mother’s life with the “pit” as the hard things,  that which has been difficult in her life, those things she has had to overcome but have contributed to a depth in her character helping her trust more fully in God. Each mother has left a legacy. . .her prayers and actions influencing future generations.

My writing is in two parts.  The first blog is about a few “strong women” who have contributed to my life.  The second will be shared on another blog later this week. It is about biblical and historical “strong mothers,” the meat of the message the more important of the two blogs.


HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!  I am glad you are here.  Some of you are with your mother to honor her this day.  Some of you are mothers.  We all are children of mothers, whether we knew our mothers well or not.

Today I will talk about strong mothers. We will see what it is in their lives that shows their strength, a strength we can "mine" or discern from their life-pictures of human interactions in which we see who they are or were.  Like the words in our theme, Out of the cherry pit: Walking with God,  like that hard nasty cherry pit that one finds in the midst of the fruit’s sweet flesh, a strong woman often has adversity in her life that gives her grief or causes her to wrestle with God in a deeper language than that of simple conversation. What makes these women strong and also beautiful as women people notice is defined by the choices they make in the way they live their lives.

Since today is Mother’s Day. This may be a happy day for you.  We all have a mother and we think about her on this day. You are remembering your own mother, if she is or was a good person who gave of herself to you and had your best interest at heart. If she did, it is a warm grateful appreciative feeling. If she was strong in her faith and prayed for you, you know you have been doubly blessed. I was talking with my aunt, she was recalling that when my grandmother passed away, she remembered thinking, “Who’s going to pray for me now?” My aunt was a teacher, her mother’s prayers were something she counted on.  She is not the first I’ve heard say that they miss their mother’s prayers or depended on them. It is a comfort and a strength when your mother prays for you. Not everyone is so blessed. I have been.

I wish everyone could have a mother who blesses them like my mother has blessed me. One of the strengths we had as a family during my growing up years, I believe was in direct relationship to my mother’s prayers for us as a family. I know mother prayed.  This is how I know. Our mornings always started the same. Mother would get up first to make a hot breakfast for we five children, it was either hot cereal of some kind or eggs, bacon, and toast, she always wanted us to start our day off  right with a healthy breakfast. Then Mother would call us “time to wake up!” Whoever’s turn it was to practice the piano first (the dreaded spot) would begin playing the piano, the first one started at 6:30, the next at 6:45, and the last at 7:00, with my younger sister taking her turn at 7:15. We older siblings caught the bus at the end of the driveway at 7:20. During our piano practicing time, my mother sat on the couch in the same room. There was a Bible on her lap and a cup of tea beside her. She would be reading her Bible or she would be in prayer.

Like most of us, I didn’t realize how much a blessing it was to have a faithful mother who prayed for me and still prays for me and all of us.  She gave unconditional love in action. My mother sewed for us, making all our dresses (4 girls), her own dresses, and even shirts for my brother and dad. Later, she helped us as we learned to craft our own clothing, but even into college years she would sew for us, and later for her grandchildren. I realize now Mother’s sewing was an act of her love for us and an expression of herself  and it saved money too! Mother cooked homemade meals that were balanced and healthy. T.V. dinners were a rare treat. As a family, we did not eat out, not even fast food, except for on family trips or rare occasions. Hand-cranked home-made ice-cream formed in a two gallon metal canister was the delightful refreshment after a roast beef and mashed potatoes meal; we all took our turns doing one hundred turns of the crank with Dad finishing it up when it became hard to turn. This was standard fare in our home on most Sundays. The Sunday meal is a tradition I carried on with my own family, making the Sunday meal special. If I asked you, many of you could tell equally beautiful stories about your own mothers.

Life on a farm is not easy. There were years of minimal proceeds at the end of the season. Plans to get ahead often came to an abrupt stop due to unfortunate situations. Mother and Dad would persevere on. We all worked hard, after school, and throughout the summer.  It didn't seem like we could get ahead despite the effort. There was little complaining but I am supposing that Mother was praying about those things when she was enjoying listening to us play the piano. Music is her outlet, a violin is her performance instrument, and painting is her artistic mode of expression.

“Peace at the Center” is an old Quaker saying. My two grandmothers get lots of credit. They were both strong women but life shaped them very differently, and their personalities were opposites. Both were steadfast women of faith. “Peace at the Center” could be the descriptor for both my grandmothers. I cannot remember a harsh word from either one of my grandmothers not even with their mates, nor a sense of hurry or frustration or impatience when preparing big holiday meals with lots of grandchildren under foot.  I think it was the way they lived their lives, a quiet response that they expected of themselves, peaceful self-control, not given to expressing anger. Now that I am a mother, I realize what a feat that was, to put a holiday meal together without sounding impatient, dealing with canning mounds of tomatoes or cling peaches while maintaining a sense of decorum and grace. I had exceptionally wonderful grandmothers. Both put into my life more than I ever gave to them.

My mother’s mother, Grandma Weigold, didn’t have the luxury of having her mother during some of her growing up years. When Grandma was twelve, her mother died due to complications from a pregnancy that miscarried. (Her cherry pit). At the time Grandma had three younger brothers, the youngest was two and one sister two years older than her. When her older sister married at sixteen, my grandmother at age fourteen assumed the care of the home for her father and brothers, Grandma’s father was a minister in Arizona in a small brethren church.  This was the first major challenge of her young life. Even though she fell in love with my granddad in that same church, she once told me that she waited until she was twenty-five to marry him, when she felt she wasn’t needed by her brothers.

Grandma was a self-taught musician, only having one year of piano lessons. My sisters and I learned to sing and perform at an early age, it was part of being in her life! In the 1980’s Grandma Weigold self-published two books of songs she had written over the years. I recently typed her name in the Google Search box. It came up and took me to Amazon.com, there I saw one of her books on sale.  Cool stuff! Music and gardening were her passions. Her yard was a bower of elegant flowers on every border with avocado, lemon, grapefruit, fig, and fruit trees interspersed. She felt closest to God when she was working in her yard. Grandma Weigold’s faith was alive. Anyone who met her knew it. She loved everybody and believed that no one was a hopeless cause.

My father’s mother, Grandma Brumbaugh, was a practical woman who had a gentle heart. She was raised in a conservative Christian fellowship that followed certain ways: Women did not cut their hair or wear make-up or jewelry, they wore prayer coverings in church which were made out of white sheer fabric that they would sew using tucks to shape it into a little cap. As a child, my grandmother wore a bonnet. Grandma Brumbaugh had her own challenges. She was born with limited sight, because of this she learned to be protective of her vision. Grandma would limit her reading and time spent on tasks using fine stitchery.  As a little girl, grandma had pneumonia twice, it was quite severe. It would reoccur later in life. Her physical body was prone to weakness though she worked hard on their dairy farm, scouring down the milk room and appliances after every milking a twice a day, a responsibility every day of the week. She also helped Grandpa by running the team of horses as they shocked hay in the fields, or in raising tomatoes from seed to be planted later on the acreage or  doing whatever the task was at hand. My father and aunt have stories about their younger years. Farming and dairying was a challenge, involving everyone's participation.

I knew Grandma Brumbaugh to only wear home-sewn calico print dresses. These she would trim with hand-made tatting on the collar, dresses which she sewed using a Singer treadle sewing machine (she liked it better than her electric sewing machine). She quilted using the scraps of material left over after she cut out her calico print dresses or grandpa’s shirt patterns.  Tatting, using a shuttle and colored thread, was probably her favorite past-time. We grandchildren were all recipients of a quilt bedspread she sewed for us in her later years. We even got to help while they were in the quilting frame, stitching the three layers together, sewing on the diagonal in straight lines using needles with trails of white thread. In my guest bedroom, my quilt from Grandma is on display.

On Saturdays,Grandma was a baker, having a routine for all that she did, every day, every hour. As a teenager, I would drive over to her house and join her early in the morning on baking day. Mainly I watched but I loved being with her. I learned a lot from observing and talking with her.  We had a special bond, I often felt it. I told her about my friends and some of the things in my life. She was a quiet person, just like me.  Maybe that's why we hit it off. Grandma Brumbaugh would give some of the bread that she made to our family. She also darned our socks during my younger days (on occasion she put pink wintergreen candies inside our socks to surprise us).  When I stayed over for the night, I loved brushing her long thick wavy iron-gray hair after she took it out of its bun, just before she plaited it into a braid. Sometimes she let me “style” it. When we were young, grandma would teach us Bible verses by writing the words on the inside of a paper bag opened up to lay out flat. Grandma’s faith was dominant, and she had a discerning mind when it came to spiritual truth. Her faith was integral to every thing she did. I’ve read her notes on the flaps of book jackets that tell me this. Hers was a disciplined quiet faith that I much admired.

There was one other woman who made a huge “mothering” difference in my life. Her name was, Millie.  We first met when my little family moved next door to her in the mountain town of Greenville. She was in her seventies.  The friendship became deep and strong.  Millie did not have children.  She called my children her adopted grandchildren. Until she passed away, Millie and her husband would come to the birthday parties and special events in my family’s lives. When we moved to Chico, she moved on the same day to Chico. I see the irony now.  I really needed her. Early on, through some harsh times in my life, I found in Grandma Millie a trusted friend who would listen and give practical words of insight. She was much stronger in personality than myself, not afraid of conflict or speaking her mind. In her church, she was loved by everyone.  Our family was not her only adopted family, I knew of two other families who were blessed by her presence and love.  She was truly young at heart, never letting age get in her way of showing interest in people. In many ways, I found her to be an anchor during troubled seas, for she’d been around a long time and knew a lot of “stuff” that hard knocks teach you. I miss her, she’s been gone several years now. 

Grandma Millie was from Oklahoma, an Okie. Just newly married at nineteen, she followed her family to Texas and then to California. It was during the Dust Bowl days, her family had no choice but to leave Oklahoma. It was a large family. She was sixteen when her youngest sister was born, and was given the care of her sister.  Her sister was often with her. That was the sister she would always be closest to and talk the most about almost every time we were visiting.  In Texas the family picked produce in the fields.  Like migrant workers do, she and her husband and extended family migrated where the crops needed picking.  Only one time did she talk about it with me, how hard it was, how they did things like canning chicken, how they didn’t know what would happen next.  It was a hard life.

Eventually Millie would end up in the Bay Area to become a printer by trade. After nine years of marriage, her first marriage ended, she had scriptural grounds. She married Les a few years later, he was thirteen years older than her.  Then met at a dance, she said he couldn't dance but fell for her right then and there. We loved Les, an artist and who had been a home decorator in Berkley, California. Millie told me their Berkley home was a showcase with window panes throughout.  He prayed the most beautiful prayers, even after dementia claimed his thought-processes.  Later on after Les passed on, she married Ernie, both of them in their eighties. We liked him too. Some women never lose their beauty, Millie always looked pretty every time I saw her. She had old fashioned graces that I picked up on and have tried to incorporate in my lifestyle, always bringing a gift of food or something every time she came to my house. I think her beauty went with who she was and her love for life and God.

My two grandmothers, my mother, and Grandma Millie greatly contributed to who I am today. You cannot divorce their part of influence on me from who I have become. Their imprint shows in how I process things or my reaction to life with its unsteady circumstances. I pull from their influences according to the need at hand. Each had strengths that I can continually draw on.  I am so richly blessed by this. I know that my life would be different in many ways if they had not been a part of my life experiences. I believe that all of them prayed for me and my children, especially during times when there was great need. It is a gift they gave me, the silent type of gift with great value and importance. Some of their prayers are still coming to fruition.   

This same gift I now give to my five children, son-in-law, and grandchildren and others in my sphere. It is something my family can depend on. If they need an opinion about something, I find they will ask me. If it’s a prayer concern, I find they will let me know when they need my prayers or tell me of someone else who needs my prayers. It is an honor I have been given. It also means, I am becoming a "strong woman."

You can be a mother, like Millie, even if the ones in your life are not your own flesh and blood. People need love, young mothers desire wisdom, children respond to attention and energy. We all have something to give. A listening ear can be the greater gift that you give someone, better than toys or babysitting. There are many people we know who cannot relate to their mothers, there’s a disconnection, or their mother is unable to give them what they seek or need. I was given so much that I can never repay.  But, I can give to someone else. I feel, that even in sharing this message, I am giving a bit of myself to encourage another person who just may need it!

Do you need some love today?  From my soul to yours, “God loves you." I love and care, too, as much as I can with these words. We are in this together. Love is the key. Strength and courage are the support. God is the reason and the Facilitator. Happy Mother's Day.  Bless someone!

God Bless you!

. . . to be continued another day.  (Part 2)

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