About this series: Many years ago, we asked the matriarchs in our church to share “pearls of wisdom” they learned over the course of their walk with the Lord. We collected their stories in a booklet which we distributed through women’s ministries. My copy of the booklet is now tattered and faded, and many of the women quoted are home with the Lord.
To honor their wisdom and keep their words alive, I am sharing their pearls here before my booklet turns to dust or gets lost in the clutter of daily life.
I hope these words inspire you to share a cup of tea with an older woman in your church and listen to her pearls of wisdom.
On dreams fulfilled or left behind
Dreams! We all have them, especially when we are young. We think everything will be perfect when… (you fill in the blank). It may be when you get into the college of your choice, land a great job, meet the man of your dreams, have a family, have lots of money, and are able to travel the world. I had many of these dreams when I was young. Some were realized, and some were not.
I believe God uses our dreams for His purposes as He did the dreams of Joseph and Daniel, and that He has a plan for each of us. I have found when I have a dream, I go to God in prayer and ask for His wisdom. James 1:6 says, “If anyone lacks wisdom, he should ask God…, but when he asks, he must believe, and not doubt.” This is how we can know whether our dreams are what God has planned for us, or if they are just human desires. James 3:17 explains that “…wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, without uncertainty or insincerity.” Using this as my guideline in prayer, I wait for the Lord to open the door, and by His grace, many of my dreams have been fulfilled. Thanks be to God! -Skip Tewksbury
When I had to leave home to live at Riverdale Assisted Living Residence in 1976, it was a shock and I was sad and discouraged. My chronic multiple sclerosis had progressed over 15 years and now I needed more care than my family could handle. My Christian friends told me that I would have a wonderful opportunity to minister to the elderly residents at Riverdale. I was 47 at that time, the others 80 to 100. I tried to share the gospel, but never felt that I really had a ministry. Others who came from local churches were doing much better, I thought.
I am now 73 and have, by the grace of God, lived here for 25 years. Some years ago, I began to paint landscapes and various subjects in water media, using a brush fastened to a mouthstick. Now the Lord has shown me a ministry in which I can be involved.
Vitaly Voinov was a UVa student who was one of the volunteer drivers who took me to church on the JAUNT van in my motorized wheelchair. We became good friends, and when Vitaly went to Tuva in Siberia, Russia, I saw an opportunity to help with his important work of translating the Bible into the native language of the nomadic Tuvins.
It is a joy to me to give my paintings to anyone who will make a donation to Vitaly’s translation project. I know now that I could not make a ministry happen. Only God can do that. -Lori Konkle
When I was asked to participate in this program, the word that occurred to me over and over was “learning.” I wanted to talk about a fun experience that the Lord led me into, so skiing it was. From the beginning, it has been a learning experience. I was afraid of heights and was led to climb the highest mountain I could find and look straight down! Through all these years, I’ve learned so much, as well as being given the opportunity to witness to and pray for people. How wonderful of God to be with me while I ski! -Sally Watson
I always wanted to get a pilot’s license… -Miriam Reed
I do regret not taking flying lessons… -Sally Watson [Note: When this conversation was recorded, Sally was recovering from back surgery and was most concerned about when she could get back on the tennis courts and ski slopes. She started downhill skiing when she was in her 40s.]
Be open to the Lord’s leading; you never know how He may use you to sow a seed. I was a nurse and still enjoy volunteering as a friendly visitor at UVa hospital. I was visiting a woman who had been in a car accident when she got the results of her x-rays; they showed her back was only sprained, not broken. I spoke up, “Praise the Lord!” The woman responded, “Don’t say that to me. I don’t believe in God. I don’t ever want to see you again!” So I avoided her. But one day I was asked to pick up a prescription for this woman. I did, and she was grateful. That gesture opened the door to share with her. We discovered we shared a love of cats, and she later invited me to dinner. That open door was the beginning of more opportunities to share the love of Christ with her.
Another dear patient I visit is Mr. V. He has been in the hospital for 914 days, waiting for a new heart. He walks so close to the Lord. Every time I visit, I go to his room first, and I tell him, “I’ve come to get a breath of the Lord.” Some situations are so difficult and tragic, I quickly tell them, “The only thing I can do is pray.”
Whoever you are, remember you’re made in the image of God. I was recently asked by Jan Karon if she could use me as a model in one of her children’s books. She wanted a small adult figure. I told her, “This will be the first time my height has paid off!” -Claire Gray
I used to think I could only pray during a quiet time, when nothing else would interfere. But those times in our busy lives are all too few. I have come to realize that the Lord hears my prayers at any time or wherever I may be– behind the wheel, cleaning closets or hiking in the mountains.
Now, I find myself continually going to God in prayer, no matter what I am doing or how busy I may be. My prayers, like pearls strung together on a necklace, go out in praise and thanksgiving, as well as for the needs and concerns of my family and dear friends, those who are hurting, those who are serving the Lord everywhere, and even for myself.
Before I fall asleep at night, my thoughts return to those whom I have prayed for during the day, and I entrust my pearls of prayer to the Lord, knowing that He will answer each one, according to His will. -Skip Tewksbury
I’m one of those rare ones: a Charlottesville native. I grew up during the Great Depression in a family with six children. Thankfully, my father always had a job, but we had many health problems resulting in heavy expenses. We lived outside town, in what was part of Albemarle County at the time; now it’s on JPA, and if you can imagine, we had cows there. I rode the trolley to Venable School and later, the old Lane High School which has since been demolished. .
As a child I was so shy I’d blush when my name was called for attendance check. At 21, I had a strong “must do” urge to do my part in taking care of the war time casualties. I wanted to join the WAVES (hospital corps), and believe me, God had something to do with it. When I told my mother, she said, “If I were your age, I would want to help, too, but what about your father? He won’t want you to go.” We had a plan. I’d go to Richmond, join, and surprise him with the news. When I told him, he was very supportive, though not at all happy about it.
Other than Richmond and Lynchburg, I had been out of Charlottesville twice– to New York and Virginia Beach, and I looked to be 16 years old, but I now know it was the Lord who helped me get on the train, where I knew no one, and go to training camp in New York City. After Boot Camp, Hospital Corps Training in Bethesda, Md., and a 10 day leave at home, I left Charlottesville alone for Chicago where I met the other girls headed to Oregon. I didn’t know I had to change trains, so later, when everyone else on the train got up to leave, I decided I had better follow them. Again the Lord had His hand on my shoulder. I could have ended up I don’t know where, but He directed me to the right train and I met the other girls to board the train for Astoria, Oregon.
In 1975, I came to Christ during a Lay Witness Weekend held in a small Methodist church in Maryland. My life turned upside down and He’s been with me constantly. One example stands out. When our second child was born, I and was taking cortisone. It was a new drug and long-term effects were not known. Right after the baby was born, I got very ill with a bug, and lost my milk. That was the Lord’s provision, because if I had nursed the baby with the cortisone in my system, the baby would have gotten all those drugs and we now know it causes serious calcium loss.
I am very hard of hearing and in even small groups, my hearing aid is useless. But one on one, in person or on the phone, I would love to visit with folks and share with them about Charlottesville when I was young. -Gil Atkinson
On the battle against materialism
We were brought up to understand that the world didn’t belong to us. Now, children seem to “need” every toy ever made. But giving in too often is not helping them; it’s not teaching them to handle money wisely, nor teaching them to use their imagination in play. They need to think imagine and pretend. When I was a child, I made my own paper dolls. I cut a girl from the Sears catalog, and glued her to cardboard. Then I designed her clothes from plain paper, colored them and cut them out with the little tabs to hold them in place. I turned empty matchboxes, the large size, into trunks and stored the clothes inside. We were all set to travel. -Gil Atkinson
Things became less important when I focused instead on the people in my life. My parents setting an example by being servants to others, and reaching out beyond themselves to help wherever they could inspired me to do the same. Things recede in importance when you spend your time caring for others, and you can put things in their proper perspective when you think about others instead of yourself. -Maggie Maranto
As a young wife and mother of two little ones, I remember standing in my living room surveying the sparse furnishings in our newly built home and wishing for “things” such as a real dining table to replace the rickety card table, some draperies to cover a large picture window, and some carpeting for the bare floors. I had just come home from a church service, and as I stood there overwhelmed with the need for “things,” the verse suddenly popped into my mind: “But seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these ‘things’ shall be added unto you.” As I took the Lord at His word, the weight was lifted and the pressure was gone.
I forgot about that incident for some years, when one day I again stood in my living room and remembered that defining moment. The house was now fully furnished, truly full of “things”….but the best gift was the Lord Himself. -Anonymous
On stretching pennies
I try to think, “What can I do without?” We forget about those things we see in stores if we resist buying them. I really enjoy the challenge of making ends meet. -Anonymous
I was divorced many years ago, when my daughters were 11 and 6. My former husband left the country to avoid paying child support. I worked in occupational therapy in the psych ward at UVa, but money was tight. At the end of the month, I would call a family council. I’d tell the girls, “We have this much left over. Would you like to see a matinee or go to McDonald’s?” -Lucinda Lally
Learn to sew! In the process you’ll learn patience, organization and other virtues. And you can save big bucks by sewing your own curtains, drapes, tablecloths, placemats, napkins, bedspreads, your own clothes and those of your family. Of course, buy fabric and notions when they are on sale. Also, do your own painting. Have painting parties! Paint for your neighbor one week and she can paint for you the next; same for wallpapering. -Miriam Middleton
I learned a lot from my mom during the Depression. We often went without meat, and if there was any extra, it went to my father. She would take whatever we had, put a white sauce over it and have a casserole. Today, credit cards make it so easy for people to get in over their heads. They feel they must have it– now! But tight times should make you think about priorities. -Miriam Reed
Also in this series:
- Pearls of Wisdom: Advice from our Mothers
- Pearls of Wisdom: If I could talk with one of my old teachers
- Pearls of Wisdom: on Family
- Pearls of Wisdom: on Marriage
- Pearls of Wisdom: on Adjusting to the Empty Next
- Pearls of Wisdom: on Loving the spouses our children choose
- Pearls of Wisdom: on Parenting
- Pearls of Wisdom: on Loss
Photo used here under Flickr Creative Commons.