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Gran was smart, well-read, and deeply faithful.

by Tom Deviney on May 04, 2022

My maternal grandmother, “Gran,” came to live with us when I was around four years of age. Somewhere around ten or eleven, she moved into her own duplex apartment. But she continued to be very present in our home. In the earlier years, she was the person who ran the household. She did the shopping, cooking, dressing of children, home treatment of injuries or illness, and most of the discipline. (I still remember the feel of a wooden spoon on the top of my head!) In later years, with her health declining, she was more limited in her activity. But not her presence…

My grandfather died when my mother was six, leaving Gran to raise a household of three daughters in a small Texas town (Ganado) during the Depression. She juggled raising her daughters with the demands of operating a small diner. Later, she moved her family to San Antonio to provide better education and opportunity for her daughters. When she fell and broke her first hip, she came to live with us. For most of my formative years, she was a strong presence in my life.

Gran was smart, well-read, and deeply faithful. She was part of the holiness movement in the Methodist Church. She was very clear in her moral understandings and a lay scholar in her Biblical understanding. (She taught Bible classes well into her eighties.) She expected no less from her children and grandchildren. And she made that known! Worship, prayer, and scripture were not optional in our household. When we were teenagers, her devotion could become very annoying to my sister and me. But it was hard for us to argue with her because she so clearly lived out her faith.

Born in the age of the horse and buggy, Gran never learned to drive and never had a Driver’s License. She never believed that someone actually walked on the moon. She didn’t think there was any conspiracy, she just couldn’t accept it. Computers were a total mystery to her. But while technology passed her by, faith and compassion did not.

When we returned to Ganado to hold her funeral, we were overwhelmed by the number of local people who had “Effie” stories. Her small diner had been a lifeline for many through the Great Depression. Her care and remedies had been lavished on many. She had taught many how to read their Bible and led music in many worship services. Most surprising to us, however, was the burial of her second husband. None of us grandchildren knew about him until that day! They were only married a brief time before she had him removed from her home for drinking and striking her daughters. Decades later, Bexar County contacted her about providing a grave. She provided not only a grave, but a burial service. For me, it was a final lesson from her about Christian compassion.

When I began seminary, I was continually surprised to discover how much she had taught me – both through actual instruction and through example. In those years, I went from taking her for granted to a deep appreciation, love, and respect for her. I realized that she was probably the most influential person in my life, especially in my faith formation. I am certain that part of the reason I am a pastor and my sister was a Christian Educator was the foundation of faith – heart and life – that she gave us.

Currently, as a pastor, father, and grandfather, I still find myself looking to her teaching and example. She “set the bar” for me when it comes to “intentional faith.” Her intentional faith shaped and inspired my faith. I hope someone can say the same about me!

I wonder who has shaped your life of faith? How will your life of intentional faith shape and inspire those around you and the generations to come?

Be Blessed,
Tom Deviney

Tags: faith, influence, intentional faith, example

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