Mad for…Judy

A great man is always willing to be little. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

As I type today’s entry, I’ve just returned home from church. As I sat listening to Fr. Hurley give his homily about the virtue of humility, I knew that was the Lord calling me to write about my aunt, Judy Langdon. She’s pictured below, at right (in green dress). I’ve got no idea why I have this photo or who’s in this shot with her, but I like it because it shows her warm smile and it even seems to convey one of the things I love about her– her beautiful humility.

Growing up, at each and every family event I attended, my Aunt Judy did something that I rarely noticed others doing. She always took a few minutes to sit down next to me and ask me very specific and pointed questions about my life. She wanted to know how my classes were going, and did I like my teacher. She quizzed me about the activities that I was interested in. She left me feeling like I mattered. I saw her do the same with my sister and my cousins too. In all those years, even as I grew and matured, this pattern of hers never changed. One would think that as I got older, I might have thought to turn to her and ask her a few questions too. I don’t think I did. Some of us like the sound of our own voice a tad too much, huh? Aunt Judy is a humble woman. She’s the embodiment of the famous quote by Rick Warren that says, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.”

At mass today, the gospel was the famous passage from Luke which deals with honor at a banquet. Jesus notices how people jockey for a seat of prominence, and then points out the most desperate scenario/outcome for those who are more about ego than humility– getting noticed for all the wrong reasons. His message is about taking the lowest place on purpose.

My Aunt Judy has never played the ego game. She’s a faithful, gentle, intelligent and godly woman. Also? She’s always had the most amazing green thumb! So many of the most beautiful plants in my own garden are from starts she shared with me. I regret now that I have never previously told her that her quiet kindness and dignity made a big impression on me over the years. Today, as I was listening at church, I realized it was time to correct course and thank her for her beautiful example.

This lovely woman has suffered tremendously in the past year since the tragic loss of her son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter. I know many of us, her family and friends, continue to keep her as well as my Uncle Roy and the rest of the family in our prayers. God is faithful, though, and His unconditional love lasts forever. I’d like to ask you today to please pray with me for their peace of mind and heart.

“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

Mad for…Lisa

Everything that is done out of Love acquires greatness and beauty. (St. Josemaria Escriva)

I got to know the truly remarkable Lisa Gruber a little better while I was in what I referred to as “my Jesus book club”. She was a terrific mom I already knew a little from St. Louis de Montfort, but her love of the Lord as well as her joyful spirit shined through for me in this setting. She’s got a quirky awesome sense of humor too! As she celebrates her birthday tomorrow, she’s on my mind as well as my prayer list.

The beautiful thing about our good and gracious God is that He can show us His face through even the most ridiculous and heartbreaking experiences. Lisa has been through several of those. Recently, I’ve been praying for her recovery to health after serious surgery to remove an adrenal tumor. A few years back, we prayed for her after the loss of her son. In both of these instances, her example of faithfulness and grace were inspiring. She’s full up to her eyelids with her real life examples of Mary’s “yes” to our Lord, and I find her to be a gentle, soft-spoken, humorous, and spiritually wise woman.

She’s a loving and phenomenal mom, wife, and friend, plus she never seems to age! I don’t know how she manages that. Lisa is as selfless and grateful as she is holy. She is a first class Jesus lover. If they come to convict Christians, Lisa is in the first round of arrests.

St. Josemaria Escriva wrote “The Way” and in it he advocates for directing daily life and even mundane activities towards the glory of God. That’s why I chose this quote for today as I try to honor Lisa on her birthday weekend! Although we may not stumble upon anything we might consider to be an extraordinary opportunity to grow in holiness in our lives, we can act in the regular day-to-day routine with great love for God. That’s what I see in Lisa. Her small “yes” each day just seems to lead to another and then another….and before long she’s just flat out gone and done something incredible yet again! God’s grace is powerfully present in this stunning, prayerful soul.

As you celebrate your birthday this Labor Day Weekend, Lisa, I just wanted to say THANK YOU for being a visible sign of Christ to all of us around you. You truly are His face and His hands. I am inspired by you to work on my own holiness and love of the Lord. I HOPE YOU HAVE THE BEST BIRTHDAY, BECAUSE YOUR LIFE DESERVES TO BE CELEBRATED!!! Heal quick, my friend!