Cherished Blogfest – Women of Faith

Mother’s Day – 2017

When we traveled to Pittsburgh in May for my mother’s funeral, we also attended services at her church: The Primitive Methodist Church of Carnegie, PA. It’s a tiny church with a small but lively congregation. It was Mother’s Day, and the praises offered by the members of the congregation and echoed by the minister in his sermon, were mostly in memory of the women in that church, and how they collectively raised us.

The list included all of my Sunday School teachers, as well as my mom and my grandmother. In fact, several times during the sermon, it occurred to me that that church was home to the few life experiences I have in common with my mother.

She grew up during the Depression, my brother and I grew up in relatively comfortable, albeit chaotic times. She ended her education after high school, but helped put both her children through college. She never lived more than a dozen or so miles from the town that church is in. I moved coast-to-coast twice and settled 500 miles away from Pittsburgh. I could fill this blog with the differences in our life.

On the other hand. We both grew up in that church. We both sang with gusto, if not ability, all the verses of all those hymns, even the ones we didn’t like – I’m looking at you “The Old Rugged Cross.” We both stood in that small room and accepted Jesus Christ as our personal savior, as we became Junior Members at age 13. My hand was probably raised a bit more timidly than hers had been 30 years earlier, but it was raised.

A few miles west of the PM Church is St. George Orthodox Church, the church my other grandmother literally helped build. I didn’t spend a lot of Sundays in that church, but I spent a lot of time with my grandmother. She was a woman of faith like none other I’ve ever met. While she probably wished my father had taken us to his church more often, she frequently told me that she was glad my mother took us to church. My aunts (on both sides) regularly reinforced the importance of a strong faith in God, and what that meant with respect to your actions here on earth.

These women taught us right from wrong. They taught us by rote and they taught us by example. They set us on a path that ran between boundaries we would not cross in our lifetime. No shortcuts. No diversions, and remarkably, for all those women, no turning back.

All of those women are gone. None of them were saints, but they all carried their faith through their final days. Hopefully, that will be one more thing that I share with them.

This post is part of  the Cherished Blogfest. The blogfest is hosted by Damyanti Biswas, Dan AntionCheryl PenningtonPeter NenaSharukh Bamboat, Mary Giese, and Kate PowellPaul Ruddockit is open to anyone who wants to tell the world about something or someone they cherish. If you want to join us, click here. The blogfest is open until Midnight Sunday.

89 thoughts on “Cherished Blogfest – Women of Faith

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  1. I learned a lot about you from this post, Dan: this is a lovely tribute to both your mother and grandmother and their strength of character as well as their faiths. (I haven’t heard “The Old Rugged Cross” sung in years; like you, I’m not a fan of the song as a song, but it has a soft place in my heart because of my associations with a time and place in my childhood.)

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    1. Thanks Sandi. My mother’s mother liked that hymn. My mom didn’t. Ironically, it was playing in the background at the funeral home the day of her service. I’ve written before about my dad’d mother. She was very special to me, and she taught me a lot about life.

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  2. Hi Dan – lovely to read and to find out some family history … our mothers and grandmothers do set the tone for us to appreciate and learn from as we get older … love the photo of you with your mother … a precious one – cheers Hilary

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    1. Thanks Judy. Those lessons and those memories do travel with us. I think those women worked to make sure they would. I’d thought about it before, but listening to all the other people, who were my age, talking about the different women who “raised us” really made me realize how large a role those women had in our lives. I’m glad you enjoyed this.

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    1. Thanks. That generation really did give if themselves. I’m not sure we did such a good job carrying the pail after they set it down. I think of my childhood and the fact that they had lived through the depression and WWII and all they wanted was to make a better life for us. It’s hard not to be humble.

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  3. Dan, I love your post and I admire your mom, grandmother and aunts for having such conviction in their faith. I aspire to that conviction every day…still a work in progress. It was awesome of you to share these two churches (I love the small ones) and the story of the women in your life that taught you faith and goodness. Thanks for co-hosting the blogfest, I truly enjoy the stories that come from this annual event.

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    1. Thanks Mary. I knew when I was standing there that I needed to share that story, but I wasn’t sure how or when. This seemed like the right time. Those two churches couldn’t be more different, but the same kind of people were inside.

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    1. What a turnaround, indeed. I can picture you serving very well in that role, Audrey. You have a spiritual quality that is always present in your writing. Thank you for spending some time here today.

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  4. What a lovely tribute to two great women in your life. And, a perfect subject for the Cherished Blogfest. I wasn’t raised in a faith but my mother certainly taught me right from wrong and gave me boundaries I still follow. Although she has been gone for 17 years, I still hear her voice in my head encouraging me to make good choices and do the right thing.

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  5. They may be gone but not forgotten. Lovely tribute, Dan, not only to these women who were a big part of your life but to all women, educated or not, who teach their sons and daughters the difference between right and wrong, good and bad.

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    1. Thanks Evelyne. I think it is so often the mothers who teach those lessons. I remember men in both churches. They were mostly good men, fun to be around, and they taught us many things, and they were mostly good examples, but not like these women.

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  6. “The Old Rugged Cross” was my mom’s absolute favourite hymn and was played at her funeral. It’s one of my favourites too, but it’s one that makes me cry every time I hear it, even to this day. Thanks for unapologetically speaking the name of Jesus in this one, Dan. I wish people did more of that. And God bless your mom and grandma for never being ashamed of Him.

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    1. Thanks Wendy. The Old Rugged Cross was my grandmother’s favorite hymn. My mother did not inherit that appreciation . She also did not like my favorite hymn: “Amazing Grace.” I remember my grandmother’s funeral. The minister, when talking about Rachel, said: “And we all know how Rachel loved her Jesus…” We cultivated that relationship in that small church. I’m glad you liked this.

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        1. “Amazing Grace” seems to be one of those songs that you either love if you don’t want to hear. Someday, I have to tell the story of why it’s my fav.

          When we were making preparations for her funeral, they asked about her favorite hymns. We didn’t know, we only knew the ones she didn’t like. We asked around her church and everyone said “just not…” and listed those two.

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  7. Nice post, Dan. What a blessing it is to have faith-filled parents and grandparents to guide us as we grow up. I can think of quite a few in my family, all of whom helped shape me in a number of ways. It’s vital that we cherish those memories and — more importantly — to live by the words and example they gave us.

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    1. Thanks Paul. There were all good examples, and they were vigilant in keeping us on that path. They’re long gone, but their memory still reminds me of the right things to do. We are lucky to have had people like this in our lives.

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  8. Dan, lovely tribute to your Mother, grandmother and the church women. I grew up in a small town in Maine, and had the same beginning family stability. Include several very close friends who were called aunts and uncles. I lived next door to the church in our town. My mother was a church-goer and an activities helper. Grandmother played the organ in her church a town away. As kids those churches were a second home to us. Thanks for reminding me how important it is to remember the strong women in my life. Thanks also for co-hosting the Cherished Blogfest. Christine

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    1. Thanks Christine. I guess these small towns and small churches dot the landscape throughout the country. It’s funny that you mention calling people aunt and uncle (out of respect). I grew up thinking our family was much larger than it is. We spent a lot of time in those churches. I guess it helped.

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  9. I’ve got tears in my eyes, Dan. What a beautiful and touching post! I was just thinking the other day how Motherhood is THE most under-rated “job” yet IMO the toughest there is! And just letting you know this post is a confirmation for me … hubby and I are going to a “new” church this coming Sunday after not attending one for a long time. Hubby this past week was involved in a car accident (I know. Something ELSE?) … not his fault and no one was hurt thank God … but there was a woman at the scene who insisted on being a witness for him and she prayed with hubby. That got us thinking and so we are going to her church Sunday. Short version … we got burned badly but now we both feel the timing is right for us to return to a church. 🤗

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    1. Thanks Amy. I am still looking for the right church, the church to replace the experience I remember. I hope you find a place where you guys can be comfortable. I’m glad no one was hurt in that accident. That’s all that matters.

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  10. Beautifully written <3
    Your mom sounds like a very special person who left an indelible mark on you. I love the photo of you together.
    It seems like I don't have to wish it for you … your memories will always be heart-warming!

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  11. Finally, I am back on your site after a really long time. Don’t ask how my days are turning up. Sometimes I feel 24 hours are not enough for me. Anyways, I will rant about my busy schedule some other day. Back to your Cherished Blogfest post, I am already quite emotional reading various posts before you. Mary wrote about her late friend, you wrote about your mother and granny and in just two days (18th Oct) it will be 22 years that my mother is gone. I believe by now you already know how close I was to my mother. She was my world and whatever I am today is because of her. She taught me a lot of things but above all, she taught me to never give up. She was a fighter but she never revealed her scars to me, maybe I was too naive to understand what she was going through. However, whenever I was down she would back me up to do it again. In fact, after she was gone I was lonely and a lot of people took advantage of me because I was scared to face the world alone. However, it was her legendary words that put me back on track. You know what she once said to me? She said: It’s a dog eat dog world out there. So stop whining and barking, start biting.

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    1. I think a parent’s first instinct is to see their children be taken care of or be able to take care of themselves. Sometimes, their are hard lessons involved in that process, but that’s part of the job we accept when we have children. When I was growing up, there was much more of a community spirit around raising children. It was like we were all part of an extended family, especially in that small church. I think your mom did a good job!

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  12. I am just now finding time to read the posts. This one brought up the things my mom and my grandmother did for me, including pass on their faith, and even though I am now a Buddhist, I have the teachings and the heart connection to both Catholics and Methodists… Guadalupe and my gandmother’s reasons for believing in God. Thank you — and lovely pic of you and your mom!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Thank you for sharing this beautiful tribute to the important women in your life. I was struck by the differences and similarities that you share with your Mother. This is a great reminder for all of us to look past our differences and find our common chord. #CBF17

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    1. Thanks Donna. I always focused on the differences, mainly because my mom was always saying stuff like “I don’t have a clue what you do…” The technology has just changed so fast. But the fundamental lessons were very similar.

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  14. I enjoyed reading this post Dan, its so nice to acknowledge and appreciate women of faith, your mom and your grandmother lived by example and have influenced you positively. You reminded me of my parents who were traditional Catholics but with deep faith in God and they taught us to pray every day and told us to trust in God at all moments of our lives. Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. I’m glad you enjoyed this. These women could point to the times when their faith sustained them. I can too, but that’s to their credit. By and large, they lived a life that was governed by their faith.

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