Tuesday, April 5, 2011

"Still a Young Lady!"

Our beloved Martha turned 102 last Friday, April 1.

It's been a bit of a tough year for her since we celebrated her birthday last year. She broke her leg near to the hip she had broken when she was a mere 98 1/2. She was in and out of emergency, in and out of the hospital, a little bit more this past year.

And with the hard, hard winter we lived through, she was less and less able to come to our Tuesday morning meetings at the Manor.

However, we couldn't let her birthday go unnoticed! I called the wonderful Heather Gillespie, Manager of the Golden Hills Lodge, where Martha resides; and Heather herself wheeled Martha in her chair over at 10 o'clock this morning for our weekly hymn sing and Bible study ...

When it came time to sing "Happy Birthday," after we had sung the regular chorus Dad paused and then remarked, "I guess we can't sing the verse about 'May you live to be a hundred', can we?!"

And Dad brought a wonderful devotional about how God remembers. He remembers us. This deserves a post of its own, so I won't elaborate now except to say that one of the verses he referenced was Jesus' words about the lilies in the field, and how Solomon in all his glory couldn't touch their beauty. Dad asked us what the difference was between Solomon's beauty and that of the lilies. None of us got it, so he had to elaborate: When Solomon was done being king for the day, he would take off his crown and his royal jewels. He would get out of his ceremonial robes. And there he would be, just a man, possibly with a paunch (oh Dad!!). His beauty was extrinsic, coming from outside of himself.

Lilies, on the other side, never divest themselves of their beauty. Their beauty is intrinsic to them - it is impossible to separate the beauty of the lily from the lily itself without destroying the flower.

I thought immediately that this was a good picture of Martha. Our Martha is a lily, her beauty such an integral part of her that you cannot separate the two. Her beauty comes from a life well-lived. She graduated from Prairie Bible Institute in 1936, and the words given to her that day were Proverbs 3:5-6:

Martha's magnifying glass - how she reads now -
over her favourite Bible verse ...
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not unto your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths."

And what a path her life has taken! She was all set to go be a missionary when her mother became gravely ill. She felt called to go home, not only to care for her mother but also to help raise her younger siblings. She was there for a number of years, until her mother passed away.
Words from Martha's favourite song

After that she went overseas, and in 1948 she ended up in Ireland, working for 13 years with World Missions to Children. At the end of the 13 years she turned 65 and they retired her. However, she didn't feel ready to retire, so when she got a call from the Bible Club Movement in County Kildare, she went and worked with them for another 13 years! (How short-sighted of the first mission!) Two of "her" kids from the Bible Club Movement came to Prairie and both went on to serve God, Tony in Alaska and Philip as a Presbyterian minister back in Northern Ireland.

Telling Lester and Dad that she was
"retired" by the mission at age 65!

When she returned to Canada to "retire" officially at the age of 78, she became involved with missionary work and prayer, and that continues to this day. Each day she meets with people to pray, to exhort and encourage them. When Dad and I would go visit her in hospital this past year, she would encourage us with scripture and with stories and with memories of Mum, one of her prayer partners.

One time she was telling us of the time of her own mother's death and funeral, which was when Martha was 26. It was a terrible winter and her mother would have to be buried from the family home. Two ministers came out for the service, a Lutheran and a Baptist one. She could remember the name of the Baptist one; but when it came to the first name of the Lutheran one, she was stumped. Try as she might, she could not recall the man's first name. "Do you think I'm losing it, Allan?" she demanded of my Dad - she was 101 at the time, and 75 years away from the funeral! She held my hand when I told her how much I miss Mum. "My mother died 75 years ago and I still miss her. You never stop missing your mother," she said softly.

"Jacob lived to be 130 ...
 As Dad was closing the study for the week, he read the story of Jacob's words to the Egyptian Pharaoh in Genesis 47:9: "The days of the years of my pilgrimage are a hundred and thirty years; few and evil have the days of my life been ..."
... you're still a young lady!"

"Why, Martha, you're still a young lady!" he exclaimed, and was rewarded with one of her deep chuckles.

"I'm looking forward to living a few more years, God willing," she retorted, "unless He comes back first and then I want to go with Him!"

Ahh, Martha, we want you for as many years as we can have you! But in the meantime, We'll praise Him for all that is past and trust Him for all that's to come!"

We love you. Happy Birthday.


  1. Beautiful! Inside and outside. What a woman! What a great God. (...And how I love Dad!)xxx

  2. We do love Martha! What an incredible saint, amazing mind and intrinsically beautiful woman. What an inspiration - if she would like a few more years to serve, most of us have a long way to go and much to do! Thanks for sharing.


I love to hear from you! Please leave me a leaf to read ...