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A moving account of Joyce's discovery of the incredible gifts her mother left her - the gifts of honesty, human acceptance, and "regardless and always" faith - that only read their full worth when they are given away.
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Joyce Landorf Heatherley, nationally known author, public speaker, and recording artist brings the special message of love and hope to thousands of men and women through her books, videos, music, and inspired presentations.
A graduate of Pasadena City College with a degree in music, Joyce also received an honorary doctorate in humanities from Azusa Pacific University. Through her 24 books, her film series (His Stubborn Love), speaking engagements, radio programs and national television appearances, Joyce has spread her inspired message of hope to millions of readers and viewers both in the U.S. and overseas. Her four record albums exemplify her musical gift and touch the hearts of people needing reassurance, hope and support in the trials of everyday living. There are over seven million copies of her products in circulation.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
All day I'd been preoccupied with intellectually and emotional thawing out the icicle memories of mother, grieving, crying, laughing at my poor seamstress ability on one dress I'd made, missing her, and packing away her things. It wasn't until the end of that emotionally trying and draining day that I apprised the traces of what was left of her...three ordinary cardboard boxes? That's it?
It was outrageous! A woman like Marion Miller...one woman in several million! A real, no phony baloney woman. True helpmate and pastor's wife for thirty-eight years. An extraordinary mother. An exciting, devoted grandmother. A brilliant mind. A compassionate heart. A woman well-acquainted with both sorrow and joy. An earthy, yet godly woman. And, yes, my dearest, most trusted friend and major cheerleader in my balcony...gone...and all that's left of her fitted neatly into three simple cardboard boxes. My heart and mind screamed in unison,
Dear God, what have you allowed to happen here? Are you kidding me? Don't you want to rethink this? Could this really be your plan for her, for us? Does the sum of her entire life add up to these insignificant boxes before me? Is this all we have to remember of her? Are the contents of these crummy boxes her legacy or the total inheritance she's willed to us, to family, to friends?
Barely respectful, smoldering with hot indignation, I gave God a fiery rundown on the pitiful inventory before me.
Box One: A couple of knit dresses to go to Jean Farthingham who was the same size as Mother and a good friend in their church.
Box Two: A couple of knit dresses, lingerie and some costume jewelry to go to my wonderful Aunt Grace, Mother's sister.
Box Three: Who could forget the biggest one, going where? Why, to the Goodwill, of course!
"Lord," I blurted out, "there is something decidedly and dreadfully wrong with all of this! It's so unfair! It looks to me as if her whole life has been reduced to next to nothing. And, once these boxes are gone (awful thought) it will be as if Marion Miller never existed...as if she never mattered or counted or anything...I can't believe this!"
Fortunately for me, and as a matter of fact for all of us, God has very broad shoulders. Down through the centuries, God's children have shouted out their grievances and more than once have virtually picketed his throne room. He is perfectly capable of taking whatever we dish out. Even when it's the most bitter emotional garbage of our souls.
I suspect that our heavenly Father's response to us is somewhat similar to ours - particularly when we, as parents, have to deal with flare-ups of anger by our children...
While I was spewing our my angry feelings and questions to God about "Mother's things," he did not send a bolt of lightning to shut me up or whack me on my backside and send me off to bed with no supper (although it's probably close to what I deserved...). He didn't use the event as a springboard of a soul-scalding sermon on the evils of doubting his will, of questioning his actions, or of challenging his authority. He also did not ignore be by pretending he didn't know who I was, making me feel invisible. He didn't treat me as though I had a highly infectious case of leprosy, thereby confirming that I was unclean and untouchable. No. Not at all. None of these punitive actions.
God's gracious spirit allowed me some valuable and uninterrupted time to dump on him. He gave me sufficient time in which to vent the whole black cloud of grief and rage, to release the feelings which were seething inside my heart and mind. God, ever the patient father, waited while I went on and on about the gross unfairness and injustices involving "Mother's things."
At last, after I exhausted my energy and was feeling emotionally spent, I was pleasantly and more than a little surprised that filtering through the empty, now icicle-less halls of my mind, I could hear a new message. It was God's calm, quiet, moving yet firm words. I could hear,
No, Joyce-Honey, this isn't all she's left you. Your inheritance is not to be found in these boxes. Your mother's legacy is a whole warehouse, packed full of treasures. She's left you many, many gifts; and, if you're finished yelling at me and calmed down enough to listen to me, I'd like to tell you about some of them.
I leaned back into the couch pillows feeling foolish and very small - but still my father's precious child - as his strong arms of love sustained and comforted me...
What a noble difference Marion Miller made. That "weak, unknown handmaiden" as she called herself, had made a lasting difference, an everlasting difference!
We've all heard the old saying that you can't give a gift away if you don't have it. Inheritances are like that. You can't leave houses and land to someone if you don't first own them. In the case of my inheritance, the wonderful gifts Mother gave me were straight out of her vast storehouse of possessions. All those gifts, once hers, now belong to me. They are mine. So, now it isn't a question of the legality of my inheritance - that's been established. Or, even how much I've been given - that's a fortune. But, rather, the question becomes: What shall I do with what I have?
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