Notes from Jan

Life On Bended Knees

January 31, 2019

Her smile’s grown slightly shy because of her teeth, the only thing not real about my Norwegian grandmother. I love the picture so much, it’s tucked inside my small New Testament, a reminder of what love and faithfulness look like.

The angle’s odd, as if the photographer sat on the floor, focused on her knees, as much as her sweet face. Then again, maybe it was deliberate. It’s part of why I keep the cropped photo, a visual reminder of what those knees bore for more than eighty years.

Across her lap rests her open Bible. Looks like she’s into the Psalms. Again. Worn pages bear witness to her love for God’s words. The camera’s flash reflects off her glasses, starring her eyes. Grandma’s hair, soft and gray as a dove’s feather, stays put behind a hairnet. Nothing wayward about her.

This simple photo conjures other images. Grandma never went to a gym to workout, or did yoga to stretch. She scrubbed floors on her knees, for others and her own. Bestemor knelt by her bed or beside a chair to pray, more often than daily. When a child needed her, she bowed down to their level or lifted them to sit on her knees. Most of her life she walked to wherever she needed to get, then took a bus, streetcar or subway.

She’s gone now, at home in heaven, where floors need no scrubbing but one whiff of Fels Naptha or Ivory soap and grandma’s back. Each day when I come to her face in my small bible, I ask her to pray for me, our family. I’ve got one new knee but neither do justice to my heritage.

One day “every knee shall bow” (Romans 14:11 NLT) Some, like my Bestemor, will bow with ease and joy, then get back up with Grace.

And here I sit.

Lord, have mercy.

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7 Comments

  • Reply Maggie Rowe January 31, 2019 at 3:37 pm

    Jan, I loved your post. My Bestemor (farmor) died before I was born, so I won’t get to know her until God takes me Home. Interestingly enough, the one photo I have of her as a young woman was taken at knee level too! And hey, fun news…guess where Mike and I are serving this fall? An international missions church in Stavanger where my grandparents were born! This will be my first trip to Norway. I’ll be there 8 weeks, Mike 12 in order to assist the pastor there.

  • Reply Suzy Young January 31, 2019 at 3:38 pm

    Dear Jan: How timely! Over the past few weeks I have had a song constantly in my head — it just popped in the other day and I haven’t heard it for years.

    At the name of Jesus every knee shall bow. Every tongue confess Him king of glory now.
    Tis the Father’s pleasure we should call Him Lord, who from the beginning was the mighty Word.

    Love to you! Suzy

  • Reply Dale January 31, 2019 at 7:31 pm

    Memories (prompted by pictures) , along with a memory are both gifts from God.

    Blessings, Dale

  • Reply Jim Zingarelli February 2, 2019 at 2:26 pm

    “Io Sento la Tu Voce” was an Italian hymn my grandmother would sing. It translates “I Can Hear Your Voice Lord”. As a boy, I loved to hear her sing the song while I had no idea what it meant. I even asked her to teach me the song: we sang it together, but she was much more acutely aware in the confidence of her faith, that this was truly a prayer of thanksgiving and affirmation.

    Thanks Jan for helping stir the memory banks! Jim

  • Reply Wendy Lane February 4, 2019 at 3:43 pm

    This was beautiful – I love that you have your grandmother’s photo in your Bible, and all that you described about her. I believe God looks at the heart as much as the knee, and your heart has been a testimony to so many of what love, faithfulness, living for and bowing to the Lord look like. When I think about you I think about God and His love and goodness in the same thought. Just sayin. <3

  • Reply Anna iltis February 5, 2019 at 6:49 am

    What a wonderful legacy!!

  • Reply Alyssa Arnold February 21, 2019 at 6:49 pm

    Powerfully gentle. Touching. Gives me a moment to remember my grandmothers.

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