living on pb & j

Ordinary moms living on Prayer, the Bible, and Jesus!


My Grandmother’s Influence

We sat in my living room, my grandparents and I.  They had stopped by as they returned home from one of their many missions trips.  We were chatting, and my sweet grandma brought up a subject she knew was very close to my heart – my desire for a baby.  My husband and I had already been married several years, and had no children.  She said, “Honey, you know I pray for you and Brian every day.”  I knew she did.  And then in her gentle way she asked, “Have you considered that perhaps God hasn’t given you children yet because He has something else for you to do?”  I shook my head.  No, I hadn’t considered that.  I said something.  I’m not sure what.  In my head, I was shouting, “No!  I don’t WANT to do something else.  I don’t even want to consider that.”  Yet in my heart, I knew that perhaps she was right.  Her wise words made me stop and think about God’s plan for my life, and the reality that I needed to surrender to it – no matter what it was.  I struggled with that for a long time, and truthfully, I don’t think I would have listened to anyone else who may have said that to me.  I’m thankful for her wisdom, her insight, her candor, and her compassion.

Besides my mother, no woman has influenced me more than my grandmother.   When I read about the woman of Proverbs 31, I think of her.  Her faithful love for my grandpa, her steadfast faith in God, her quiet spirit, her busy hands – always making something beautiful, something useful – her gentle ways, her wise words, her generous heart, her beautiful countenance all touched my life more profoundly than I can say.  From the time I was just a child, I remember her teaching me lessons I am still trying to learn and incorporate into my life.  She loved to write, and always encouraged me to share my poems and songs with her, and with others.  She lived a life of faith.  She shared her faith.  She loved the Bible, and her walk with God made me want to walk with Him too.

To be honest, my time with my grandma was much too short.  When we were children, my grandparents lived far away, and because they were missionaries, our visits were few and far between.  My sister and I did spend a couple weeks with them each summer, and I treasure those memories.  They moved closer to us when I was a teenager, and although they traveled a lot, I did get to spend more time with them, and even traveled with them some.  And yet, though our time was limited, her influence was great.

It’s hard to believe she’s been in heaven for 10 years already.  At her 50th wedding anniversary celebration, she made a short “speech” thanking everyone for coming.  In typical Grandma Mary fashion, she said with a smile, “I was reading in the Bible about the 50th year, the year of jubilee.  It was the year of release.  The only thing I can think of I would want to be released from is this old body.”  Less than two weeks later, she was with the Lord.

I miss her, but I think of her often, and I know that her life is still making a difference.  I pray that the Lord will help me to follow her example.  “Her children arise up and call her blessed…”


She wrote me a poem when I went to college.  It was such a help to me then, and still is now!


(God gave me this poem right after we took our dear granddaughter, Nicole Neal, to Crown College at Powell, TN.)

Sometimes a plant, for its good, must be moved,

To a larger pot or a richer soil,

So the roots, cramped and hungry no longer,

Transplanted can now bloom royal.

Right after the move, the plant seems to wilt,

Looks a little droopy and sick,

But as it drinks in water and sunshine,

New life is replenished real quick.

Sometimes God, for our good, has to move us

To a place where our soul roots stretch out.

If we drink in the new Spiritual nourishment

God can bring great changes about.

Adjustments and changes may drain us at first,

But the “Gardener’s” wisdom is best.

Let your life bring out beautiful blossoms,

Set your roots in His Word and rest.

With love from Grandma Mary

August 17, 1994

Psalm 92:13 – “Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God.”

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Women of Influence

I have chosen two women who have influenced me in my christian walk.  I have chosen two women who are older than I am and who I think exemplify the Titus 2 woman.  I think it is important for the “older women” to teach those who are younger.  I think this is something we are lacking in our modern day society.

The first woman that I think of is Tami Neal.  She was my Pastor’s wife for three years (until they and we moved) and has been a friend and a “mother in the faith” for many years.  She is a great testimony of a woman who trusts the Lord, even when she doesn’t understand his plan!  Her faith is an encouragement to me.

She is also a true keeper at home who loves her children and husband, as mentioned in Titus 2.  She sets a good example of a godly wife and mother.  She loves and honors her husband.  She opens her home to others and really has the gift of hospitality.  She has watched my children for me on many occasions and she always makes their time so fun and enjoyable.  She is very creative and has a way of making children feel so loved.

She has been homeschooling for probably 30 years and I’m blessed to see her faithfulness.  She has probably influenced me more than anyone else in the area of raising my kids for the Lord.  God has used her greatly in influencing me to homeschool my own children.  If I ever need advice, she is always there.  Her advice is always from a biblical point of view, too.   Thank you Ms. Tami for your godly example!

My mother-n-law, Gerri Johnson, is also a godly woman of influence.  She has served with her husband on the mission field of Brazil for 38 years.  I don’t know her as well as I would like to because we only see each other every few years, but I admire her faithfulness in serving the Lord all these years.

She has influenced me the most by raising a wonderful son who loves the Lord and is a great husband.  All 5 of her children are faithfully serving the Lord and that to me means that she was a woman of great influence to her children.

The one thing that sticks out to me about my mother-n-law is that I have never heard her criticize anyone.  She really has a meek and quiet spirit.  I’ve never heard her complain.  Thank you Gerri for being a godly example.

Dema Johnson

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More is Caught then Taught

When I think of a woman, other than my mother, who has influenced me in my life, I think  of a woman who I looked up to and admired during my teen years.  Her name is Sue Dorsey.  She was the Kindergarten school teacher at the Christian school I attended, my Girl’s Ensemble teacher and the choir director in our church.

She was always such a proper lady with such a caring spirit yet she knew how to laugh and have fun.  I always admired her faithfulness.  She took her choir  ministry in the church seriously because of Who we were doing it for, the Lord Jesus Christ.  Before practice each Sunday, I can remember her praying the we would sing with a “holy boldness”.  She always wanted the Lord to be glorified in what she did.  She was always so organized and prompt; (and she liked for us to be too! 🙂 )

The Bible talks of the aged women teaching the younger women  (through example and with words).  I did not realize at the time how much I was learning from just observing.  Many things in our lives are “caught” rather than “taught”.  I  am thankful to the Lord for putting Mrs. Sue Dorsey in my life as a continuing example of faithfulness.  I go back to visit my home church where I grew up and I find her still in her place.

It is such a sweet thing to me to see such faithfulness in the life of a woman to her Lord.  She has encouraged me to do the same because there may be a young girl somewhere out there watching my life.  I pray to be that Godly influence to her.

                                                               With much love and a grateful heart,