Special Note:
These were words about Margaret Ware Jolly, whose life was celebrated yesterday at a gathering of friends, family, and spiritual family. So often we hear about well-known church leaders who stumbled and embarrassed all believers by their hypocrisy or weakness. Unfortunately, we seldom hear about people who faithfully lived what they said they believed. What's more, they did it to bless others while not seeking notoriety. Today, we celebrate a lady that lived through tragedy and heartache, yet found her joy and shared her faith as she knitted people together in love. Let's celebrate this life to remind ourselves of how many good, beautiful, and faithful people there are in God's family. And, let's let them know how precious they are to us before they go to be with Jesus!

She was Mimi to me, even though she wasn't my biological grandmother. But "step-grandmother" was as dusty a thought as the toys in the loft of the big old red barn outside her farmhouse. Mimi was mine! I can still remember her pulling me tight and kissing the top of my head when we'd at last crawl out of the vehicle from our long drive from the city. After our kisses, we gratefully stretched our legs, eager to run down to the creek and re-explore that old red barn.

The sound of the wind chimes, the cows lowing from across the creek, the bacon sizzling in the kitchen while football played in the den, all melts into the lullaby of the happiest place of my childhood. And while I could never possibly manage to explain exactly what Grandfather and Mimi's home was to me, and to so many of us, these two people are some of the deepest, stabilizing roots of my childhood.

I remember waking up in the blue bedroom upstairs, morning light streaming in the windows, and Mimi's bridal portrait on the wall. I would stare into that regal photo. You could not have convinced me she wasn't a royal princess. She was delightfully pessimistic but funny, and always a bit mysterious. While Grandfather poured over his crossword puzzles, Mimi would always have a worn crime novel next to her. It smelled of terrifying and tantalizing mysteries I wished I could explore.

She took time to sit in front of the dress-up chest and help us try on all the old crinkled dresses and wigs and try on her clip-on earrings. I still remember the feeling of holding my mouth perfectly still while she put lipstick on my lips, the smell of the old wig on my head making me want to sneeze.

My sisters and I had an unspoken tradition that every single time we went to the farm, on the last night of our stay, we would push in the old VHS of Anne of Green Gables and settle in for the long haul. Grandfather would last a few minutes before plodding off to bed, but Mimi would pull a blanket up to her chin and watch for a few hours, or at least till we had to flip the tape.

She was so frail when I saw her last year in the surge of family at Grandfather's funeral. But, she was still my Mimi, smaller and tinier than I had ever seen her. But today, she can at last stand tall and pain-free. She can hear and remember clearly. She made me laugh so many times! So while today I'm crying a bit, even for just for a moment, Mimi lives on, in my heart and in my memories.

Mimi was mine!
Tonight my little family and I sat on our front porch, the dark summer night hushed in perfect silence. Fireflies glittered in the field, and my seven-year-old begged, "Tell me a story, Mommy."

I cleared my throat and thought about Mimi.

"Well, when I was a little girl, my favorite place was the farm where Grandfather and Mimi lived. Mimi would let me try on her clip-on earrings. I'd look in the mirror and smile, and imagine I was a beautiful woman like my Mimi..."

Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last;
but a woman who fears the LORD will be greatly praised.
Reward her for all she has done.
Let her deeds publicly declare her praise
(Proverbs 31:30-31).