By Carol G. Stratton
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." John 14:27.
The night before my wedding, my mother-in-law stood up at dinner, clinked on her water glass and made a small speech. As she looked around the long white banquet tables, she recalled how her West Coast son had called her in Indiana to let her know he was marrying me. The baby of their family had chosen a wife, someone she had only met twice. But for a woman sold out for God, she didn’t miss a beat. Taking a big breath, she paused before saying, “... and I had a great peace.” It was the best wedding present she could have given us.
Great peace she had - and not because of me. Dorothy’s peace was portable as she carried it inside. Everyone in my husband John’s family knew that when she arrived on the scene things would calm down. Divorces, depression, sick babies and homes for sale ... any problem took a new perspective when my mother-in-law flew through the door. After a flurry of kisses and a predictable cup of coffee in her hand, the delicate china cup with the thin gold-rimmed lip and “Mom” engraved on the side, she settled down to the serious business of encouragement.
Amidst my four unruly children and a kitchen floor that begged for a sweep, she tackled any domestic crisis. Like sunshine on a February day, she flung open the curtain of hope and dragged me to the window to admire the view. No pity parties here.
“Yes, I know your husband lost the big sale,” she’d console, “and you miss your family, but have you seen the beauty outside? Take a whiff of that clear air you’ve needed to breathe.”
Raised by a single mother as an only child, she had little support in her life. She learned to encourage first herself, and then others. When, as a young mother, she asked Jesus into her heart, she learned what true peace she could have in her life. Not a particularly outgoing woman, she still managed to share the good news to many in her small town.
Dorothy hauled that great peace to the emergency room ward where she worked as triage nurse. No surprise that she became a nurse, getting her GED, driver’s license, and nursing degree after age 50. She soothed her families troubles, healing people’s bodies seemed a natural extension of her gift. She worked rings around younger nurses until into her 70s.
Even as she wasted away after intestinal surgery, that remnant of peace steeled her family together. And today I can still picture looking inter her determined deep-set hazel eyes and seeing the unshakeable conviction that God is in control. I think of her when I read the quote that hung in her living room:
“He will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Him.” Isaiah 26:3.
Copyright © Carol G. Stratton. Used by permission.
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Carol G. Stratton is a freelance writer from North Carolina. She is married with four adult children and two grandchildren. She speaks to MOPS groups and has a website, www.ChangingZipCodes.com, to help women who are moving keep their family and humor intact. Send Carol your comments.
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