Given at Grandma’s service, February 7, 2022
I know a lot about my grandma, Barbara.
I know that she was born the only daughter to Olien and Jennie Peters. She was born into a then-tight knit family that cared deeply for each other. The Bowen Family Tie, they called it.
I know she was considered “the smartest girl” in the class and the one everyone wanted to copy off of. She won an award for perfect penmanship. My grandma Barbara was a very smart gal.
I know she married my grandpa, Jack, straight out of high school, and then they had two sons, my good ole uncle, Kenny, and my father, Ronald. I know that, even though they ran her ragged, she loved them more than anything in the world (except me, of course).
I know she worked at the CMSU residence center down the street from her house for a number of years. She was inspired to pursue a career as a teacher and she taught until they wouldn’t let her teach anymore (haha).
I know that once she became a teacher, she discovered that literacy was her passion. So much so that she went back for her master’s degree focused on reading education and then she joined the Missouri State Council of the International Reading Association. She served in just about every position they had, all the way up to the top, learning about innovative strategies for teaching literacy and working to support teachers across the state to help others learn how to read.
I know that when she retired she wasn’t content to just “retire,” and so she dedicated her time to serving the Lord at First in the Impact Ministry.
I know she always took care of me, and she made sure my mother and I had what we needed to survive when she was struggling to make ends meet as a single mom.
I know she loved dancing, Liberace, soap operas, and sweets, especially ice cream. She was an exceptional home chef, seamstress, organ player, and gardener. The picture of a true lady.
I know that she was a kind person, very prim and proper. She respected authority and always followed the rules. I never heard her cuss.. okay maybe just once or twice at some knuckleheaded thing one the boys did… Punctuality was of prime importance to her. She was always extremely early for everything. I think everyone who knew her would agree that she was a little particular.
Near the end when she started losing her memory and forgetting us, we started calling her Barbara Lynn. When she was young, everyone called her that because there was another Barbara in the family. While that may be true, I know one thing without a shadow of a doubt:
There was absolutely no one on this earth like my grandma, Barbara.
My grandma spent her whole life in the service of others. She served as a devoted wife to Jack, and she loved her two sons more than life itself. When they started getting a little older, she realized her destiny was to become an educator. She changed the lives of countless students across eastern Jackson county as an elementary school teacher, spending most of her time teaching the important skill of reading. She continued the Adult Basic Education program for decades, hosting it here at church, even when the school district cut the funding. She served the Lord faithfully at Impact. And she took such good care of me, even after the roles reversed.
To this day, her retired teacher friends like to tell me how much she loved me. Of course, she was crazy about me. I mean, who isn’t??? My grandma had a way of making me feel like I was the most important person in the world.
All jokes aside, this is not about me.
It’s not about you, either.
If I learned anything from my grandma Barbara, it’s the things you do for others and the ways you show you care that matter most of all.
In this one and only life I have, I want to be like my grandma Barbara. I don’t want it to be about me. I want to love unrelentingly, unabashedly and unconditionally, even when it’s undeserved, even when it hurts, even when it isn’t returned.
1 Corinthians 13 says
13 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned,[a] but have not love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;[b] 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
When all the memories fade away and the words stop coming, all that remains is love. I hope everyone gets a chance to feel the beautiful love my grandma gave to me, and to give it in return.
To God be the glory, Barbara Lynn for the victory!!!!