I was saddened to hear of Elisabeth Elliot’s death in June. Many of her books brought me comfort in difficult times, inspiration for ministry and guidelines to live as a single woman. Another favorite author from the ’80’s that I enjoyed was Ann Kiemel. Sadly, I recently found out she passed away in the spring of 2014. Another author, Joyce Landorf Heatherley, who I was delighted to learn is alive and well, wrote about the irregular people in her life, and helped me learn to live with and love my irregular people.
Back in my Simpson years, I spent a lot of time in its wonderful library. My favorite section was the Missions section. I took out books about the ministries of Hudson Taylor, Samuel Zwemer, C.T. Studd and Amy Carmichael. Of course, I also found Elisabeth Elliot’s books about her time in Ecuador. I, as well as countless others, were introduced to the five men who lost their lives to the Auca spears. One of these men was Elisabeth’s husband, Jim. I remember clearly having his quote: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” boldly written on my school binder. I was profoundly moved by Elisabeth’s story of how she came to connect with the Auca’s and bring the gospel to them.
Later in my life, her books on loneliness helped me through some dark times. In one of her books, she quoted an old Saxon poem “Do the Next Thing”. For me during my dark times and even now, I remember to do the next thing. As a dyed in the wool hare and with many kids still at home, I can hardly keep my head on straight, but when I lose focus and begin to despair, I remember, “Do the Next Thing”. Elisabeth was a towering figure and her influence will continue for many generations.
Ann Kiemel was the enthusiastic “I’m Out to Change the World” author who in her everyday friendly manner set out to tell the world about Jesus. She wrote books, ran marathons and spoke to thousands. I didn’t read many of her early books, but became acquainted with her when I read “I Gave God Time”. I had waited a long time to get married, and longed for marriage. When I read her book, it did give me hope. Her new life with her husband was my dream life, and perhaps, for me, was out of reach.
In her works, I stumbled on a quote that I used for my senior picture at St. Mary’s. “To be a pilgrim on the right journey, to never lose sight of that one quiet Star on the horizon.” These words have helped me through my dark times as well. In 1985, when I first started St. Mary’s, I remember seeing a bright star hanging over the hills making its way to the horizon. That quote reminds me of those times, knowing, the Lord will continually guide me, even despite my shortcomings. Even when I moved here, and could see the same star over the ocean, I tried to remember to never lose sight of the One who created the heavens and the earth.
Finally, I don’t remember when exactly I read Joyce Landorf Heatherley’s “Irregular People”, but I remembered its impact on me. There are a few folks in my family that are hard to deal with. I am sure I am hard to deal with to some as well. But I had tried everything I could to make peace, find common ground, concede defeat and even to this day, I am estranged, unworthy, not good enough. I am in my fifties, and I think it’s high time to move on. Joyce’s book helped me realize theoretically that some folks just don’t change. This past decade, I have learned practically that this is true. I am operating in the “My grace is sufficient for thee” mode. I am learning the love that covers a multitude of sins.
When I learned of the deaths of Elisabeth and Ann, I thought of Joyce. I searched online for any new update on her health or writings. I couldn’t find any. I called her publisher, Balcony Publishing, and spoke with a nice man, who I think is her husband. I told him I was interested in doing a blog that included Joyce and was inquiring to her health. He said she is well, but isn’t really doing interviews. I said I wasn’t looking for an interview, but just wanted to know if she was well. He offered to send me some of Joyce’s talks on CD. This was about a month ago, and I forgot all about it…..until Friday. When I came home from a couple days away, there was a package with the CDs and a book with a note from Joyce. I was beyond delighted, I was moved and grateful to this sister who reached out to say hello to a fellow pilgrim.
These three sisters in various ways profoundly influenced my life and my soul. I am indebted to their work, to the very words they wrote from their hearts that touched me personally as well as our generation of believers.
Do it immediately;
Do it with prayer;
Do it reliantly,
casting all care;
Do it with reverence,
Tracing His Hand,
Who placed it before thee with
Stayed on Omnipotence,
Safe ‘neath His wing,
Leave all resultings,
DO THE NEXT THING.