On Eagle's Wings

On Eagle's Wings
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:29-31


Thursday, April 14, 2016

Throwback Thursday with Grandma Sanders

So this morning, all I wanted to do was a simple Throwback Thursday. But, as it turns out, 

"When you’re up to your [behind] in alligators, it’s easy to forget you came to drain the swamp.”

When I open up the old photos, it's difficult for me to just choose a pic and go with it. No, I have to look at every one and think about the times behind it. I also realize my old photos are quite ragged and falling out of the album and it is either time to:
  1. Buy new albums and begin again, 
  2. Scan them. 
  3. Forget it. Simply close the books for now and leave them alone.
Here is the woman about whom I wanted to tell just a little bit. Because really, that's all I know of her. What I've heard, and what I saw the times I spent with her.

This lady, Mary Elizabeth, known as Lizzie, (Grandma Sanders to us) was born in 1885 and grew up in Oklahoma. I'm not sure whether she was born in Kentucky maybe and her family migrated to Oklahoma and she lived in both Tulsa and Oklahoma City. She was raised in a strict environment, married, and had two sons. She believed she was called to ministry and began to travel as an evangelist, preaching in various places in the U.S. Yes, a woman evangelist, and Pentecostal at that! Strict and legalistic! Needless to say, as this flowed down, it had quite an impact on me. 

Below is a pic of  her with her traveling companions. Viola, the lady on the left was, from age 19, my Grandma Sanders' lifelong companion, a single woman who stayed with her until Grandma passed away. Viola was one of the kindest women ever who also cared for my Mom when she had cancer. Viola was a very powerful intercessor, and for years, she was one of the prayer warriors in the Prayer Tower at Oral Roberts University. The woman on the right was one Sister Brewer! I have nothing on her except a recollection of meeting her as a child. She told my 4 year old sister she was pretty. My sister responded back with: "You're not!" Oh dear. 

As a teen, my mother traveled with Grandma, Viola and Sister Brewer and got to see some parts of the country she wouldn't otherwise have been able to see. Mama sang with them and Grandma Sanders had been expecting that Mama would stay with them. That is, until Mama met Daddy! Thank You, Lord!!!! 

I know you are familiar with the term "rule the roost" and that is exactly what Grandma Sanders did with her family. The matriarch! Sad to say there are some parts to her story that are very hard for me to understand and therefore, I will not tell them, because they are her skeletons, not mine. I have enough of my own skeletons in the closet that if they were told, they might shock a few people. Let's leave it at the grace of God has taken my sins and buried them deep in the sea of forgetfulness and, as to my grandmother, I feel sure He has taken care of hers as well.

Here is a picture of her at her home in Arkansas where she lived for many years. 

As a little girl, I so wanted to explore this house that was much bigger than our tiny 3 room home. But no sir, children are to be seen and not heard and my memories of this house are me either sitting in a chair quietly in the living room or at the table in the kitchen when we ate. I once ventured up the dark stairs and remember seeing a bedroom, but the memory is hazy. Most of the family gatherings were at this house when I was a child. My happier times were spent with my Granny at her house! From the stories I have heard, I am amazed at my Granny's ability to be so cheerful and fun-loving in an environment where she couldn't be the "woman of the house." Granny certainly was the heart of her home, though.

Group photos in front of Grandma's house

Grandma Sanders had two sons, one of whom was my Mother's Dad. My Mother's family lived in Oklahoma City until my mother was a teenager, at which time her Dad decided city life was not a good place for teens and moved them all to a farm high in the hills in of Northwest Arkansas. Grandma went along with them, of course, and was the authority in their home. That move to Arkansas resulted in many drastic changes in their lives as my Grandad lost his leg in a mowing accident and had to go away for some time educating himself for another career, leaving the family to take care of the farm for months!

My Granny on the left and Grandma on the right.
Grandad had a dairy service before becoming an accountant.

After my Grandma Sanders retired from her travels as a preacher, she moved to Tulsa, where we saw her more often. She seemed to soften in her later years and she especially doted on my younger brother. She had a special love for him and baked the cake with the little car on top for his birthday. I am guessing she gave him the little guitar as well. That touches my heart.

For all the years I knew her, there was a little resentment in my heart, I must confess, because I didn't like the way she treated others. Yes, I judged her. When she visited our house, you couldn't have the TV on, and my Dad had to go outside to smoke. I saw these through the eyes of a child who thought she was unkind to my Dad in his own house. And in my later years, I learned things about her that greatly disappointed and saddened me. 

This is pretty much how my Dad occupied 
his time when Grandma visited.

One of the last times my mother was in the hospital suffering so with cancer, a couple of friends from my Grandma's church came to visit. My grandma had passed many years prior to that with cancer herself, so she wasn't there. But I remember these ladies who had known Grandma so well. Their recollections of her were vastly different than mine. They spoke of a woman who gave and gave and whose life was dedicated to serving the Lord and His people. All right, I admit it. In my immaturity (in my 30's) I was stung by their comments about her because this was a stranger they were talking about and not the Grandma I knew. How was it she was able to show such kindness to others outside the family and so hurt her own family? 

Now, as I think about her and ponder my own life reflecting on things from my past that disappoint me, I can think more kindly toward her. Maybe she had learned and matured over the years. Life is hard sometimes, and we make unwise choices throughout our lives. It is good to know that we serve a loving and forgiving God, and I have to leave it at that.


Susie said...

Nonnie, Your father looks like a handsome man. Too bad your granny was tough or rough. Maybe she had to be. Sounds like the church ladies liked her. My mom was the boss around our house. LOL. I enjoyed the old pictures. I always love seeing them. Blessings, xoxo, Susie

shortybear said...

love these pictures

Debbie Huffaker said...

Just as your Grandmother had learned and matured over the years, so do we. You certainly did by your change in how you feel toward her. Actually...this reminds me of my Mom. I wonder the same thing about her...how can she be so kind to man (who isn't my Dad and they aren't married), and treat me and my brother like she does (especially, me). I obviously have a lot of "growing up" to do. :(

Mary Hutchins said...

Thanks for sharing your family story with us. Sometimes childhood memories can be a little distorted because we are so young. Wisdom and understanding come with age, and yet, there are somethings that we will never understand.

Nancy Moore said...

I don't see anything wrong with it. You may know that the house where Grandma, Viola & Sister Brewer are standing is the place where you were born and the house where we lived after out house burned down. Also, Grandma was there when you were born as well as Granny.

Terri D said...

My grandmother (mom's mom) was very similar to yours. Those outside the family knew her differently from those of us in the family. She was a miserable shrew. Tough. I understand. Enjoyed your photos and memories!