I’ve learned a lot from my husband Mel’s first wife, Janice, even though we’ve never met. For one thing, I’ve learned to appreciate the beauty of a simple gravy boat. She had an extensive collection, which partially lives in our dining room. I appreciate the fact that something utilitarian created to hold gravy, is unique and lovely in so many different ways. Who knew that such a variety of gravy boats lived in this world? I didn’t, before I married Mel. I have Janice to thank for that.
Janice also had quite a collection of cookbooks. It’s been fun looking through some of them and even trying a few new recipes. I’ve learned to appreciate her quilting, too, which was an amazing gift she had. She made some beautiful creations from simple fabric and thread.
Probably what I appreciate most about Janice is that she loved her family. It’s obvious in the photos and cards she saved. In the letters she wrote. In the mementoes she kept. A loving wife, mother, grandmother and friend, she’s gone from this earth. But she left behind a legacy of love that still lives on today. I’ve had the joy of getting to know her family and even a few of her friends.
And, of course, Mel speaks of her and shares memories of their trips and their lives together. When we remember those who are gone we honor them and keep their memory alive.
One more very important thing about Janice is that she was first and foremost a daughter of the King of kings and the Lord of lords. She loved Jesus. It’s obvious in all that she said and did. Plagued with chronic back pain, Janice was scheduled to have back surgery to cut some of the nerves in her back. Right before that, she and Mel went to a Kathryn Kuhlman conference in Minneapolis. Kuhlman was a well-known faith healer. Janice was completely healed that day. Not too long after that, the Lord called Janice to a healing ministry of her own.
Over the span of many years, Janice prayed for countless people whom the Lord healed. There’s one miraculous story after another and another. Yet Janice never sought fame or fortune for herself. She simply obeyed the Lord’s leading.
One of the things I found recently was a letter from a 20-year-old woman named Liz. Mel and Janice were at a Holy Spirit Conference in Minneapolis where someone asked them to pray for this young woman. She’d been in a car accident a couple of years before this and had broken her back in four places. She was in a back brace and cautioned not to move around very much. It was a distinct possibility that she could sever her spine and become permanently paralyzed.
Janice, Mel and two others along with the girl’s mother went to her room. Liz was in bed. Janice prayed a simple prayer. They found out later that in the middle of the night Liz was completely healed.
The letter I found from Liz to Janice detailed her healing. The baffled medical community declared her healing a miracle. It’s a beautiful letter. Later, Liz sent another one with pictures of her husband and their family. Liz’s married name wasn’t listed. But I found it on the internet. Her husband, Michael, was a minister. I found his church and jotted down the phone number. Mel called one day and left a message. Soon after, Liz and Michael called him back. Michael just retired and was no longer at the church, but the secretary called and gave him Mel’s number.
The three of them had a great time talking on the phone. Liz said in the 40-plus years since she was healed, she’s never even had a backache. Praise the Lord!
Remember what Jesus said to the disciples? “But I am telling you the truth: it is better for you that I go away, because if I do not go, the Helper will not come to you. But if I do go away, then I will send him to you” (John 16:7). And in John 14:12 Jesus tells them, “Truly, truly I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.”
Janice simply lived a life of faith. She was called and anointed to a healing ministry, but she always knew who the healer was. Jesus himself. As believers, we all have the same power living inside us. The Holy Spirit. May we all surrender our lives to the Lord. May we seek his will for our lives. May we walk in faith. May we be eternally grateful that we serve the risen Savior.
And may we realize that just like an ordinary gravy boat, we are all works of beauty in the Lord’s eyes.
“But as it is written: ‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no heart has imagined, what God has prepared for those who love Him’” (1 Corinthians 2:9).
Kathy Yoder is a devotional writer. She may be reached at email@example.com.