When I joined Community Bible Study 22 years ago, I had no idea I was about to experience a seismic shift in my spiritual life. Welcomed and embraced by a platoon of slightly older, infinitely wiser women, I was ushered into a deep, personal relationship with Christ. I use the word platoon because these women are warriors in their own right. Keep in mind, CBS isn’t a handful of women meeting in a living room. Our chapter of CBS is an army approximately 200 strong who can handle any battle life wages. Spanning all ages and demographics, these women have seen it all. They can offer spiritual advice, parenting advice, marital advice, medical advice, the name of a good lawyer or bail bondsmen if that’s your need at the moment, or simply a listening ear.
One of these women passed away last week, and her influence will be what I’m remembering this Memorial Day. Louise Grace Holland was a tiny woman with a huge heart, indomitable spirit and strength – all of which she attributed to God. She was a Patton in God’s army whose deployment lasted a lifetime. Louise wasn’t preachy, she simply lived out her faith with honesty, gentleness and kindness. She emulated what it means to be a Godly woman of substance. She was the mother of six boys and 16 grandchildren. No wonder she was so wise. The spiritual ripples she began with pebbles of faith strewn along her path continue flowing, reverberating well beyond her large circle of family and friends.
I like to think of Louise walking with Jesus (which is exactly how she lived her life), watching the circumference of her divine ripples expand wider, rolling into the lives of people she never imagined. I can almost hear Christ as He lovingly gazes into her eyes, “Well done My good and faithful servant!”
My only regret is that I never told Louise the impact she had on my life. Her joy in the Lord shone with a bubbling effervescence – it was contagious as is witnessed by the number of lives she touched. Her son recently posted on Facebook, “My mom was a woman of extraordinary faith. She loved God with every fiber in her being and shared her deep faith with me through word and action from the day she gave birth to me, until the day she went to be with Jesus. It is my greatest inheritance.” Louise left the same legacy to all who knew her.
As Christians, it is our purpose to choose to shine God’s light into a darkened world. Louise embraced that role in whatever she was doing. She didn’t need a degree in theology. She simply chose to live a life that radiated God’s love, patience, kindness and mercy. The best way I can honor her memory is to choose to do the same.
Louise’s son ended the invite to her Celebration of Life service with the following postscript.
It felt like one last message from Louise, and the more I think about it, I’m certain it was her parting message of hope for all those she left behind.
In Loving Memory
Louise Grace Holland