From A Listening Heart: Sharing some of my thoughts and "God moments" as God grows me in my faith and speaks to my heart, while I seek His face and to know Him.

My friend, something I have learned is that: Your past does NOT define you... It is through the eyes of grace, and how GOD sees you, and what you let Him do IN YOU and THROUGH you (because of your past), that defines who you are, and shapes who you become!

Remembering My Grandmother

In loving memory:
Grandma Sparks
AKA: Nita Ruth Sparks

The Lord himself will come down from heaven with a loud command,
with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God.
And those who have died believing in Christ will rise first.
After that, we who are still alive will be gathered up with them in the clouds
to meet the Lord in the air. And we will be with the Lord forever.
So encourage each other with these words.
~1 Thess. 4:16-17~

Do I think the world has come to an end? Apparently not, as we are all still here. But, I do believe that Christ himself must have had his hand on my grandmother’s shoulder. And as the bible tells us Christ came to take each of us to God, I think that on Friday night, Christ must have leaned down and whispered in her ear, “Nita Ruth, it’s time to come home.” And my grandmother’s heart must have heard him and said, “Ok” because it just stopped, and she left with him.

Two weeks ago my brother, Brandon, called and said I needed to go see my mother, as her mother had taken a turn for the worst. When I saw my mom and found out that they didn’t think my grandmother was going to make it, all I could selfishly pray was “God, please not yet.” But then two days later when I talked to my mom and found out that my grandmother was severely sick and her lungs were full of fluids and she couldn’t breathe, my prayers turned to “God, please, not this way- not like this, please don’t let her suffer.” A week later I have a text message picture of my grandmother sitting up in bed eating and putting her hand in front of her face to block my mom from taking her picture. The reason being? She had no makeup!! Immediately on my knees, I thanked God for answering my prayers that my grandma wasn’t suffering. That he had placed his hand over her and was caring for her. Course I will admit that I laughed too, one of the thing she has passed down to all us girls in the family, (so God help us) you never see us without make up- including her!

When I got the call last night that my grandmother had passed away, I was really upset. But, then I thought about Lazarus and when Jesus called him back from the grave. I have often wondered that if Lazarus had been asked first, would he have wanted to come back? Think about where he was, what he was seeing and who he was with. Would he have really wanted to come back to this earth? Would he have wanted to return to his earthly body? In Isaiah 65 it says, “Look, I will make new heavens and a new earth, and people will not remember the past or think about those things. My people will be happy forever because of the things I will make. I will make a new Jerusalem that is full of joy, and I will make her people a delight. Then I will rejoice over Jerusalem and be delighted with my people. There will never again be heard in that city the sounds of crying and sadness.”

Also written in Revelations 21 it says, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth. The first heaven and the first earth had disappeared, and there was no sea anymore. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. It was prepared like a bride dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, ‘Now God’s presence is with people, and he will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them and will be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death, sadness, crying, or pain, because all the old ways are gone.’ ”

When I think of these verses, and where my grandmother is now, I wouldn’t have the heart to call her back, even if I could. It gives me great comfort to know that the same God that told Moses, “I am who I am”, that the same God of our ancestors, the same God of Isaac, Abraham, and Jacob is also the God of my grandmother. Psalm 33:6 says “The sky was made at the LORD’S command. By the breath from his mouth, he made all the stars. He gathered the water of the sea into a heap. He made the great ocean stay in its place.” The God, whose voice, told the ocean that it could only go this far and no further, is the God now with, and holding, my grandmother.

I have so many wonderful memories of life with my grandmother;

  • Running around in the back yard while she put the clothes out on the clothes line, playing with her apron and the clothes pins, and the smell of her towels and sheets when she brought them back in; looking out her kitchen window and watching the squirrels eat the nuts we would set out for them; going to the second hand book store and spending hours sitting on the floor reading;

·    Going to the fresh vegetable market- she would always stop and get me a piece of bubble gum first; going to the fabric store with her and then her letting me play “cloth world” in her living room- I still don’t know how she would get all that fabric rolled back up; the Barbie clothes she made for me; teaching me to sew;

·     Brushing her hair and putting rollers in it- course I found out later she did this to keep me quiet so she could watch “Dallas”;

·       The waffles and fried ham she would make us for breakfast- to this day- I can only eat waffles at her house, because of the special way she would make them; the kettle whistling in the mornings when it was time for coffee; in the evening eating dinner and then hurry to help her clean up the kitchen so we could go swimming for an hour before it got dark- she would take my brothers and me swimming- she would sit on a bench in the shade and just watch- I can still hear all of us hollering, “Grandma watch. Grandma watch.” and her waving back “Ok, I’m watching”

Growing up I didn’t like drinking water, none of us really did, so my Grandma found us a special drink. But we had to leave the kitchen for her to get it for us, she said she didn’t want us to know where she hid it. So we would go in the living room and you could hear the pantry doors opening and closing. Then she would come out with one of her fancy glasses that held our beverage- with ice! She called it “H2O” and it was good! Course it was with grated teeth when we were older that we learned she was serving us water! My thought was that well, it just tasted better out of her faucet than anywhere else!

·      Her reading “Katie- no pockets” to me over and over, and then her NOT cringing when I would ask her “Please read it again.”

·    Sitting on the bar stool eating a bowl of chocolate ice cream before bed. My grandfather sitting on the barstool laughing as he listened to us talking a mile a minute. He always said he never said anything, because not only could he not get a word in, but that we said it all for him!

·     The way my grandmother would say, “Now, come here I want to ask you something…”

·         Her letting my brothers, my cousins and me play “bank” in her sewing room, and the way she would lower her glasses and tell us “now, look in my eyes…” or when we would get the hick ups, she would hold out her hand and say “here, just give them to me.”

For years my grandparents lived in a small house on Easy street, I am 40 years old and have had lots of phone numbers, and addresses to remember over the years- but it is 817-277-1748 that after all these years I can so easily repeat! And for years in this same house we would all invade my grandma’s kitchen- and there were a lot of us- but it was always her dining room table we would mill around- she use to say “One of these days, I’m gonna have me a big house where we can all go in the living room.” The funny thing is she got her big house! But it is still at her dining room table that you will find us hanging out!

·       The creak of her back door, the rolling sound that the telephone would make when I would call my friends, the clean smell of her home, her cooking, and just spending time with her. Watching her fuss over my grandpa, watching my younger brothers drive her nuts. And the simple way she loved each of us.

·        The African Violets she would grow in the window seal in the laundry room. Teaching us that the best way to water them was from the bottom up. The lunches she would get up early in the morning and make for my grandpa, putting them in a brown paper bag and then kissing him and waving goodbye.

One memory that comes so quickly to my mind- is one of her and my middle brother. She would always take us to the park and we would get snow cones. This one particular visit my brother was getting to close to the parking lot, just playing around, but my grandma went chasing after him and slid and skinned her knee. I remember her sitting on the bench pulling her pant leg up to look at it. She wasn’t at all upset, even though blood was running down her leg; her concern was for my brother.

Another incredible thing I remember, (My brother may not like this) he was ornery- both of them were- my youngest cousin, Ross, too for that matter! I can remember them getting in trouble and boy, she had this chair in her kitchen she would make them sit at- and NO THEY COULD NOT GET UP!! For a whole whopping 5, 10, maybe 15 minutes they would have to sit there. (And for boys that were always on the go- this was horrible for them!) They would get in so much trouble- for just doing “boy stuff” but then later, when they weren’t in the room, she would go to bat for them. She couldn’t stand to see anyone else get mad at them or get on to them.

I can also remember cutting my hair- my mother got SO MAD at me, but my grandmother stood up for me, telling my mom, “Now, Lynn…” course later, she got me off in the back room and really let me have it!

Her laughing at me and my cousin spouting off to each other as to who was the favorite granddaughter, you would have thought we were mortal enemies!! And then after Tara and I would “square off” my younger cousin, Tracy would just shrug her shoulders and say “Well, really I am.” Boy, Tara and I would come together then!! I can remember one time after one of our “showdowns” my grandma asking me why we hated each other. I was shocked that she could even think such a thing, so I told her I really loved Tara to death!! My grandma rolled her eyes and just sighed saying “I give up.”

On one of the last times I saw my grandmother, she had made us an asparagus casserole. I was using one of the fiesta ware plates my grandma had, the blue one actually. I can remember Tara sitting there, fuming because I was using “her plate”. I told her it was MY plate and that grandma had said I could take it home with me. Tara was steamed, but my grandma kept a straight face and went right along with me. Course after Tara left, my grandma was all over me, “WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT???” I just shrugged and told her really I liked the yellow one better; I just didn’t want Tara to know that. My grandma literally took her glasses off and put her head down on the counter, and I’m not sure if she was just laughing or crying, or a little bit of both, but I kept hearing her say “Lord, what am I gonna do with these two?” The next morning I was getting ready to leave and my cousin came to say “goodbye” (course I told my grandma that I thought Tara was coming to make SURE I was really leaving) sure enough, Tara went in the kitchen to check on the plate, there she found a note saying “if you really want the blue plate, you’ll have to go…” My grandma only then found out that I had hidden the darn plate and had placed notes ALL OVER her house making Tara chase it down before she found it! For a while my grandma followed her around, after a bit, she just went and sat down and laughed every time she heard my cousin shriek over finding another note.

There are so many things I could share and that I am going to miss about my grandma. I am so thankful for the lifetime of memories God has given me with this incredible woman. I truly loved this woman; I treasure the things that she has taught me, and the time she spent with me. It doesn’t matter that they moved to “her big ol house” my most treasured childhood memories are with my grandparents in a little house at 1907 easy street.

So even though I am all “grown up”, with kids of my own, my childish prayer is

“God, please take care of my Grandma, and please tell her how much I love her.
In Christ Jesus name, Amen”

Written with loving tears by her granddaughter, Lisa (aka Kassie)
Nov 2009

Picture from the bridge looking down at my spot as the rose petals float down the river Wendy & I released for in honor of my grandmother the day of her funeral.

Some of the rose petals that were caught on the bridge, if you look carefully you will see where they are wet-- Wendy caught a glimpse of my tears.

My Grandma with my Grampa & cousins. (Tara is the one on the right)

Their little house on Easy Street.
Someone has cut down all the big huge trees that were out front.
They had 3 or 4 along that little cement step by the driveway and then 2 really big ones in the center just outside of the bedroom window you see on the right.

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