I was born into a family full of preachers, singers and musicians…and though I felt “called” at the age of 5 to ministry, my ministry never took the shape I thought it was required to take. I have only recently realized that we are all called and that God uses each unique path in this life when we invite Him in and ask Him to use us… turns out I don’t have to be a speaker, a singer, or fluent in Hebrew… I just have to be me. My Grandma Johnson helped me to realize that in her last years on this earth, and she still inspires me daily.
My Grandmother was the kind of woman everyone wanted to be and/or be with. She was daughter, sister, wife, mother…. preacher, pastor, counselor and friend. I had the great privilege of having her in my life for 35 years. I know many people who never even had the chance to know their grandparents, or lost them much earlier in life. Though I didn’t live near my Grandma Johnson after the age of 5, I spent a great deal of time with her in the summers in my younger years. Later, when life didn’t afford me the time to spend with her in person, we began to spend more time on the phone together. When I started AndyBooks she helped by writing some short words of wisdom for me to post on my “For Your Spirit” page and we called them “Words from Gladys.” She wrote these for me between the years of 2002 and 2005, and that page still gets the most hits on my site every single month. She was a gentle soul and I never remember her raising her voice to anyone for any reason at any time. People loved her and learned from her. They wanted to spend time with her and she was always gracious and generous with her time. I don’t know how she wore so many hats simultaneously in her life, but from my perspective she did it with a grace and ease that made me want to be just like her.
My life has taken many different turns than hers did, so as I have grown older I have learned not to compare myself directly to her, but to instead pray for and hope to emulate her character. I don’t know if I have met that challenge with much success yet, but perhaps my love of writing passed to me through her and now God is giving me a chance to share it with others. My mother, Karen, and my Aunt Tami were both gifted with beautiful voices, and my Grandmother shared her voice boldly from the pulpit as well as gently one-on-one. Now it’s time to find my voice. I have been praying about my direction in life and how to use my gifts more effectively. When my Aunt Tami came to visit me in Charlotte in April 2013 and for the first time in my adult life I spent time alone with her, I came to realize that the women in our family come from a long heritage of ministry. When she told me the story of my 9th Great Grandmother, a Quaker preacher on Nantucket, I was overwhelmed by our awesome history that boasts women preaching and ministering before it was an “acceptable” thing for women to do! When she asked me what I thought of collaborating on this blog with my Mom, herself and my cousin Nikki, I was thrilled. It seems that God has orchestrated all of this (what a surprise, LOL) and that He has given us this platform to use our collective voice and mantle of ministry passed down for a couple hundred years.
Gladys Johnson, my Grandmother, passed away just prior to her 91st birthday in 2009. My Mother is 71, my Aunt is 54, I am 38 and my cousin Nikki is 25. Together, we cover nearly a century, and we have collectively traveled all over the globe. This gives 5 very distinct perspectives on life and ministry, and together we form LifeWords Today.
I’m excited and I hope you are too! LET OUR WORDS SPEAK LIFE!