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Sierra Pines Church

12 Ways to Turn Your Pain into Praise

Sapphires from Psalms

Better Than Jewels

Her name was Grace Short but she should have been called Grace Long because she was so long on Grace.  This gentle Southern lady in her seventies was my junior high Sunday School teacher.  Week after week she came into our class with the patience of Job and the persistence of the Apostle Paul. She needed them both to tackle our class full of unruly adolescents.

My twin sister and I were babies in the faith.  Having not been raised in a Christian home left us at a disadvantage when it came to behaving as proper children in church.  My mom worked the night shift at the local restaurant and when she left each evening, we ran wild in the neighborhood.   So sitting still for an hour in Sunday School was going to take some doing.  We were the kids about whom proper Southern women with beads and beehives would sip their sweet tea and say, “Those kids just ain’t had no raisen’!” And they were right.

 But that didn’t scare Mrs. Short.  She showed up each week with a lesson she had clearly spent hours preparing as she shared scriptures, illustrations, and my favorite--personal stories.  To be honest, I came as much to be around her as I did to hear what she had to say.  She was soft-spoken and gentle and no one in my life was like that. Her white hair rested against her wrinkled cheeks, but she always looked put-together with her pearl necklace and matching earrings.  She carried a lily-white hankie to dab her eyes as she cried easily when she shared stories from God’s Word that clearly meant so much to her. When she got excited about David’s courage or Saul’s transformation, she talked about having chill bumps.  She always called me “sugah” or “darlin.”   I felt like I could trust her and that was a foreign feeling for me.

One Sunday morning after class, she asked me to wait for her.  I had been asking questions all morning about Moses.  Where the Ten Commandments came from?  Why did God pick Moses?  What was that plague thing all about? And locusts?  Why locusts?  Mrs. Short asked me to follow her to the church library.  We walked up the stairs to a small room just off the entrance.  It was lined floor to ceiling with books.  After riffling through the dust-filled shelves, she pulled off a tattered paperback Good News For Modern Man Bible and handed it to me. 

“I’m so sorry,” she offered with her sweet Southern drawl.  “This is all I could find.”

“Find for what,” I responded, not knowing what she had in mind.

“To give to you, of course.”

“ Do I get to keep this?”  I asked not believing my ears.  My own mother wasn’t prone to acts of kindness so I was baffled by this lady’s generosity.

“You asked so many questions that I thought you would enjoy reading the stories for yourself,” she stated with a broad smile.

“Yes, ma’am!” I thanked her profusely.

 On the walk home I found myself in awe of the woman’s kindness.  Why would she care this much for me? I wondered.

  I read fifty pages of my new Bible before my next Sunday School class.  I couldn’t get enough of God’s Word.

The next Sunday, Mrs. Short told me before class she wanted me to meet her on the steps of the church.  What could she have in store for me now?  I was still in awe of last week’s caring gesture, I thought as I headed to the church entrance after class.  There I met Mr. Laxton, a tall friendly retired pastor from the congregation who was our acting Sunday School superintendent. 

“Grace told me how glad you were when she found a paperback Bible for you in the church library.  I thought you might really enjoy this one,” he said handing me a red leather-bound Bible with my name engraved on the front.

I was too stunned to speak.  Tears filled my eyes.  “This is for me?” was all I could choke out.

“Has your name on the front,” he chuckled.  You can thank Mrs. Short for that.  She was so excited about your desire to learn about the Lord, she wanted to make sure you had a way to do that.”

Now I was the one dabbing tears from my eyes as Mrs. Short leaned over hugged me and said, “Don’t it just give you chill bumps?” 

What a thoughtful wonderful woman. I hadn’t had many role models in my life to that point, but now I wanted to be just like Grace Short who was long on grace and full of God’s love.



June 05, 2016 @09:59 pm

Of course, Jim. Please use it! I would be honored.

June 05, 2016 @09:58 pm

I have to dab my eyes after reading that story. May I use it in prison? I have to give a talk about GRACE

June 05, 2016 @03:48 pm

This story brought tears to my eyes. Thank you so much!

June 05, 2016 @12:07 pm

Thank you for passing on the grace and kindness you learned from her

June 05, 2016 @12:06 pm

Absolutely beautiful!

June 05, 2016 @12:05 pm

Isn't the love and faithfulness of our Abba mind-boggling


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