“Mozart of Mothers,” someone once called her. A veritable “Energizer Bunny,” Great Grandmother Andrus was tireless in service. She was known for her green thumb in her flower garden, but she also had a green thumb in the garden of hospitality. Her seeds returned to her in full bloom.
“The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” II Corinthians 9:6. For all of Grandma's giving, she never lacked. She had been a widow for a long time, but she was well-loved and taken care of by many. It was never more apparent than at Christmastime when mounds of gifts piled up beside her as we gathered with other relatives to open presents, many of us scarfing down gooey sections of her famous Dutch bread or munching sticky red or green popcorn balls she'd made in advance.
“Go get a cookie out of the cookie jar!” I was shy then, but Grandma was not to be argued with. Her short, slightly plump frame was accented with beautiful white wavy hair, defined cheekbones, and piercing blue eyes that held their weight in expression. Oh, don't get me wrong, I really did want a cookie. Those crispy pale yellow squares, accented here and there with Nestle's chocolate chips were just one of the many goodies Grandma's house was known for. My adolescent mind wrestled with Mom and Dad's strict no-sugar rule, and Grandma's expectation of my feasting on her baked goods or other treats once I crossed the threshold of her Pine-Sol-clean two-story home. Grandma did more than feed people. If it wasn't food, it was money or things, if it wasn't things, it was time or acts of kindness. She just kept planting seeds.
Grandma took in ironing from women who were too busy to do it themselves. After washing and removing them from the clothes line, the wind-blown fabrics were splashed with water from her “sprinkling bottle.” She then took the moistened clothes and kept them rolled up in a bushel basket. This kept them damp and easy to iron, which took her hours at a time.
Self-sufficient and frugal, she scrounged and saved with the intention of giving. Each Christmas all of the children, grandchildren, and eventually great-grandchildren got an individual gift from her.
Visiting Grandma often meant watching her sit on her bed, telephone to ear giving advice to a needy soul. People called all the time, and Grandma was a strong shoulder to cry on. “Romans 8:28 is still in the Bible!” she once affirmed to my care-laden mom.
One Christmas Grandma got a big return on her planting. From a small package she uncovered a shiny metal object. The well-designed and accurately-depicted piece had been crafted by a friend of Grandma Andrus' son Arlee, a metalworker at Oldsmobile. Grandma's face lit up as she recognized her bounty. She smiled with delight as she opened up the miniature refrigerator and saw its contents, a collection of neatly rolled bills, all gathered from various members of the family, enough to buy a new refrigerator. Grandma's fridge was old and outdated, but she wouldn't have bought one herself. She enjoyed her new fridge for many years. Another harvest for Grandma.
I last saw Grandma when I was 15 years old. It was the last time I saw her sow. Standing on her front porch my mom, dad, brother, and I took turns hugging her, whispering goodbye to her, and to Michigan. We were headed to Southern California where Dad would commence work in a recently-formed Bible college. Grandma wept ever so softly, a light mist glistening on her wrinkled cheeks. This was the first time I'd seen her cry. She knew. It was the last time we'd be together. She shoved some money into my dad's hands, resolving still to plant.
Grandma died a couple of years after we moved. She's done planting. It's all harvest for her now. She has reaped the best gift of all: Jesus' presence. This is not from her planting, however. This is not due to her fervent work or service, but because she was loved ahead of time by God and was chosen to be his. Jesus' work; his service, his life bought Grandma this gift. Help us all to sow like Grandma did, Lord, and motivate us only by your love and finished work.