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MY CHRISTIAN HERITAGE  

I spent time in church with the Lord one evening, before choir practice.  Through music, He reminded me of my two grandmothers, now saints in heaven.  Both their names were Rose.  Tears began to fall from my eyes.   As I played their favorite songs:  “Now I Belong to Jesus” by Norman J. Clayton, (GrandmaDeLucia’s favorite) and “The Comforter Has Come” by Frank Botomme and William J. Kirkpatrick, (Grandma Turiano’s),  I recall their joy in seeing me in church with them.

Grandma Turiano, my paternal grandmother looked at me with her big brown eyes that spoke love in the absence of words, warmth in the absence of sunlight.  Her loving embrace was soft and gentle, like her sweet voice.  There was a palpable sadness about her that told me she wished we could see each other more often and have a less formal exchange.  Our relationship was one of yearning…we both seemed to yearn for more of each other, more warmth, more joy, more time together.  I saw my grandma every Sunday in church and on rare visits to her home.

My dad’s mom was a saintly woman.  She had a holy countenance.  She was poor, in the world’s eyes but so rich in God’s love and kindness.  She quietly praised the Lord in church; she sang hymns as though  Jesus and she were the only two in the room.  Even though her husband was less than kind, when she was in church, she smiled and greeted the others with peace and a sense of reverence about her…and joy.  Nothing could dismiss the Joy of the Lord within her…not even, the misery in her home life.

Grandma DeLucia, my maternal grandmother was cheerful, always there with arms opened wide to greet me and a smile just for me.  We lived on the same block and sat in the same pew in church so our relationship was close and included much fun.  We went for walks, shared dinner together, shared secrets and laughed over silly things. (Grandmothers are best-known for having fun with their grandchildren and in a way, breaking some of their parents’ rules…(as I recall, this is referred to as ‘spoiling them’).  I thought of how precious the memory of each grandmother is and what a priceless heritage I have inherited because of their lives, lived for Christ, our Savior.  I felt a special closeness to the Lord as I thought of my grandmothers that evening and I meditated in prayer. I thanked God for their gentle but powerful impact on my life.  I will forever hold them close to my heart!

Growing up in the midst of these two giants of faith, my dear grandmothers, I sat with them in church and experienced their warmth, humility, and their devotion as they (and I) knelt in prayer to their Savior and mine. I felt the Lord’s presence and power in that little Italian church. I learned of His healing power and answers to prayer. I saw my Grandmothers pray and yield and trust in an awesome God.  I loved visiting with them in their homes – I was always received with a warm and welcome embrace and a smile that whispered God’s love.  Wherever they were, when I was with them, I felt a deep sense of love –and I knew that their love came from God because they actually knew Him intimately.

As I grew into my teens, my Grandma DeLucia and I became bossom buddies.  We were inseparable! She would tell me that we were ‘two peas in a pod!’  I loved spending hours with her reading the Bible, together and talking over what we had read.  She explained so many truths, especially ones concerning salvation.  She would tell me that…..she  called on the blood of Jesus for forgiveness, for strength for the day’s work, for protection, for healing and she’d tell me that ‘His blood never loses its power and  His forgiveness never runs out.’  The cleansing flow, the blood Christ shed on Calvary, is available to us, always.  I remember a story she told me:  One day, while she was walking home from work, she encountered a large, black dog that was running toward her in attack mode.  She feared for her life!  She stopped and cried out, “Blood of Jesus!!’ and continued praying, ‘protect me, Lord, from harm’ …The attack dog came to a screeching halt…and my Grandmother was safe and unharmed and unafraid. Till today, if I sense evil or hear of it, I claim the blood of Jesus to protect us.   “Greater is He that is in me, than he that is in the world.”

I remember entering a store on a main road of a vacation spot with my daughters when they were little ones.  Sensing that items of questionable derivation were sold, I took the children’s hands and said we needed to leave, explaining to them that I sensed a spirit that was not of God. They still remember that.

“Greater is He that is in me, than he that is in the world.”

Grandma read verses from Revelations regarding the Lord’s return to earth:  ‘He is coming back to claim us, His own.  On that we can rely.’ She read the Bible through five times!!  She knew the Word and she knew the scriptures.  And she lived a life that shined bright for Him.  She emulated the love of her Lord and Savior! How I miss her till today!  My Grandma was a woman of prayer…a woman who lived ‘near to the heart of God.’  There is a song by that name, words and music, written by…….Cleland B. McAfee                                                   

Near to the Heart of  God, Words & Music: Cle­land B. Mc­A­fee, 1903 (MI­DIscore). He wrote these words af­ter two of his niec­es died from diph­theria. The Park Col­lege choir sang the new hymn out­side the quar­an­tined house.

NEAR TO THE HEART OF GOD

1.There is a place of quiet rest, near to the heart of God.
A place where sin cannot molest, near to the heart of God.

Refrain

O Jesus, blest Redeemer,
Sent from the heart of God,
Hold us who wait before Thee
Near to the heart of God.

2.There is a place of comfort sweet, near to the heart of God.
A place where we our Savior meet, near to the heart of God.

Refrain…

3.There is a place of full release, near to the heart of God.
A place where all is joy and peace, near to the heart of God.

Refrain…

 

 

 

I love their gift, this Christian Heritage that I cherish.  Despite the frayed circumstances of their lives, (Yes, they lost children to childhood diseases, back then, and their marriages were less than ideal; for many years they each lived in poverty), they walked upright in the Lord, showed the light of Christ in their interactions with others and displayed a quiet humility and sweet spirit that I can still feel when I close my eyes and think of them.

My prayer is that I too have imparted the imperative of knowing the Lord intimately to my children and grandchildren and someday to my great grandchildren~ along with an assurance that we never walk alone on this earth.  My prayer is that my family will experience the reality of Jesus’ love in their lives and that they will be assured that as He has promised in His Word, He has prepared a place for them to dwell with Him for all eternity…and until that eternity comes, His presence in the person of the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, remains with us on earth to comfort, direct, and strengthen and guide His own.

Dear Father,
Thank you for Your loving presence and for Your promise that You ‘will never leave
us or forsake us.’   Thank You for the quiet assurance that we may rest in Your love here on
earth and that one day, we will see you face to face.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

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