Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Monthly Interview :: Martha Danell {Johanna's Grandma}

ROYAL DAUGHTERS OF THE KING  :: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

MARTHA :: My husband and I have a large family including 12 grandchildren. Southern California has always been my home. Our children are all grown and no longer live with us, so our greatest enjoyment comes from spending time with our family whenever we can. My husband and I also enjoy taking our little RV out on the road to enjoy God’s beautiful creation together. I have accumulated an assortment of pretty teacups and teapots through the years, and I love gathering with the women in our family for tea parties. I worked in the business world for many years, and I still work part time. I have directed Women’s Ministries, taught women’s Bible studies, and enjoyed speaking at women’s retreats and other events.

ROYAL DAUGHTERS OF THE KING :: How did you come to Christ?

MARTHA :: I had a true but distant relationship with God during the early years of my life. I came to know Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior when I was 38 years old and in a very difficult trial. I was utterly broken in mind, body and spirit by the weight of it. My 18-year-old daughter had recently received Jesus, and she urged me to receive Him too. One evening, in desperation I visited the Christ-centered, Bible-teaching church she had recommended, and I received the Lord at that service. The Lord used that hard time to bring me to Himself, and to give me a heart for women who are hurting.

ROYAL DAUGHTERS OF TE KING :: How do you make your morning devotions meaningful?

MARTHA :: First, a word to those who are struggling to find time for devotions: Please remember that the lines of communication are always open between the Lord and His children, no matter what time it is. During the years when I had to be up at 5:30 a.m. to prepare myself and my large family for the day, and then arrive at my job by 8 a.m., I had to be very flexible and tenacious in order to have devotional times. If we are in an extra busy season of life and we are making an honest effort to meet with the Lord, then we need not become discouraged or feel guilty if we have to be flexible about the timing of our devotions. He knows and understands. I am in a different season of life now. My children are grown and moved away and my life is far less hectic in the mornings, making it so much easier to meet with my Lord.

My morning devotions are far more meaningful when I keep in mind that my Lord shed His blood to buy me the privilege of meeting with Him. Whatever it costs me to exercise that privilege is insignificant by comparison, and I do not allow myself to think of devotions as a task.

I greet the Lord as soon as I wake up, while my head is still on my pillow. I push away all other thoughts until after we have had some time together. This helps me to get my mind and my heart in the right place for that day.

Devotions are far more rich and meaningful if we are obedient to the Lord. If my devotional times start to feel dry, I ask the Lord if He is sending me a warning to prayerfully examine my conscience. He then helps me to re-align my will with His. In regard to avoiding temptations, my thanks to Dr. Charles Stanley for the following acronym. It is intended to warn us, like a STOP sign, to take certain precautions to avoid being overcome by temptations:

H = Do not allow yourself to become too HUNGRY.
A = Do not allow yourself to become too ANGRY.
L = Do not allow yourself to become too LONELY.
T = Do not allow yourself to become too TIRED.

ROYAL DAUGHTERS OF THE KING :: What is one of the most valuable lessons that you have learned?

MARTHA :: The most important one I needed to learn as a new Christian was that Jesus could be trusted 100%. Human beings break trust with one another easily, and it can be very painful and leave very deep scars when it happens. For that reason, trusting Jesus fully can be very difficult. My own life changed dramatically when I finally gave everything over to His control. I am so grateful for His amazing patience and persistence. He never gave up on me, and He never gives up on anyone who opens the door of their heart to Him.

ROYAL DAUGHTER OF THE KING :: Why do you think it is so important to memorize scripture? Do you have any tips on doing so?

MARTHA :: We cannot always consult our Bible when we need God’s word. I think the following experience I had illustrates what I mean. My husband had a serious heart problem recently. Our son, who had been waiting with me at the hospital at his father’s bedside, had to go home for a while and he asked me if I wanted him to leave me his Bible. He knew that in my hurry to get my husband to the hospital, I had not brought mine with me. I could not read during that tense time, so I shook my head 'No' to our son and just pointed to my head and my heart, and He understood what I meant. I was letting Him know that I was drawing on the Word of God that I had memorized over the years. What comfort I received as verse after verse flooded my mind and heart throughout that anxious night!

I memorize scripture the old-fashioned way, by repetition. I keep scripture fresh in my mind by reading my Bible every day. Someone once told me that the way to make a verse stick in your mind was to read it, re-read it, underscore it, and repeat it out loud. I have added another two steps to those four. I also highlight a verse I want to memorize with a yellow highlighter, and then I write down in pencil in the margin next to it the thought that came to my mind about that verse. As you can imagine, over the years I have worn out several Bibles with all my underlining, highlighting and writing!

ROYAL DAUGHTERS OF THE KING :: What are some ways that you honor your husband?

MARTHA :: I respect my husband’s role as the head of our family. I do this out of respect for the Lord, who established the marriage relationship. I have learned the importance of showing consideration to my husband in the little things. Let me illustrate what I mean by this story I heard from a speaker at a women’s retreat. She told how she was a busy wife and mother, and when dinnertime arrived every night, she quickly set the table, and got on with serving the food. One evening she noticed that her husband was thoughtful throughout dinner. When she asked him if something was troubling him, he answered her with a question: “Why do I always get the chipped plate?” The story got a lot of laughs because we married women could all identify with giving our husbands “second best” sometimes and not thinking a thing about it, but the underlying message was a serious one and I determined after that to be on guard against the “chipped plate” syndrome at our house!

A beloved pastor now in his 80’s was asked recently what he considered to be the single most important ingredient in a marriage relationship, and he answered with one word: “Kindness”. I couldn’t agree more! I wonder how many marriages would be in trouble if the husband and wife were consistently kind to one another?

ROYAL DAUGHTERS OF THE KING :: Why is this important?

MARTHA :: God assigned the wife the duty of being a “helper suitable” to her husband, so honoring one’s husband, especially by being kind to him, is important to keeping their marriage relationship healthy. When kindness is always an ingredient in marriage, as well as in our other relationships, it is much harder to say or do things that are hurtful to one another. The Bible teaches that God is love. It also teaches that love is kind.

ROYAL DAUGHTERS OF THE KING :: What are some of your guidelines for wholesome films? Could you recommend some titles?

MARTHA :: Keeping in mind that the Holy Spirit of God lives within me, and therefore He is always my companion when I watch a movie, the guidelines I follow for choosing films are simple. First, I will not watch a movie that I have not researched ahead of time to determine its story line and content. I ask, “Will my Lord approve of this movie? Does what I know about this movie pass through the filter of God’s word? Does the story contradict God by portraying evil as good? Is good portrayed as evil?” Usually, the answers to these questions are enough to help me decide whether or not a movie is acceptable. Also, I like what a pastor friend said once. He said that after a hard day, he wanted to “take his refreshment in the Lord”. That has always stuck with me as good advice. Whatever we choose to do for entertainment should have the effect of refreshing and strengthening us spiritually too. Movies and other forms of entertainment that clearly oppose God’s Word have the opposite effect.

Forgive me if I do not recommend any movie titles. Movies are such a matter of personal taste.

ROYAL DAUGHTER OF THE KING :: Who is your favorite author and why?

MARTHA :: Besides my Bible, I love to read on a wide variety of subjects. I enjoy the works of many authors from the past as well as the present, and I love discovering new ones to read. I appreciate the effort your Dad has made over the years, Johanna, to so meticulously build a family library of books by Christian authors, particularly those of the 19th century and earlier, and which you and he have so generously shared with me. A work of earlier fiction that you loaned me recently from your family library made a powerful impression on me, and I bought several copies to give as gifts. It is Sir Knight of the Splendid Way, authored by W.E. Cule, and is part of the Rare Collector Series published by Lamplighter Publishing. And as you know so well, Johanna, I enjoy the romantic works of Jane Austen and other authors of that time period.

ROYAL DAUGHTER OF THE KING :: Why do you find it important to trust God with everything?

MARTHA :: As I explained earlier, trusting God with everything is critical to receiving spiritual healing and achieving a victorious life. These are things that only He can accomplish for us. We must remember we have three things working against us all the time: the enemy of our souls, our own fleshly lusts, and the world around us that is in enmity with God. We cannot defeat them in our own strength. So we desperately need God’s help and protection. We also need to trust God entirely so that we can cooperate with Him in the plan He has devised for our life because it is immeasurably superior to anything we may have planned for ourselves. We need to trust God entirely so that we can receive all of the blessings that He wants to lavish on us - I call it “standing in the place of blessing”. We need to trust God entirely so that we can be useful to Him in spreading His message of love and salvation to others. We need to trust God entirely so that when our days our ended here, we can enter into His presence having glorified Him with our lives.

ROYAL DAUGHTERS OF THE KING :: What is your life verse, and why?

MARTHA :: The Lord impressed me with Jer. 33:3 as a new Christian. It reads, “Call to me and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know”. That verse has taken on various shades of meaning at different times in my life. I believe the thirst for God’s word that I received from Him when I accepted Him as my Savior was the earliest fulfillment of that verse. Since then, whenever I have wanted enlightenment, I have returned to that verse and called unto Him. I most recently needed His enlightenment to cope with my husband’s heart emergency. Heart problems are very complex and challenging for a lay person to understand, which made it very difficult for me during my husband’s emergency. So I returned to Jer. 33:3 and called upon the Lord for enlightenment. He responded once again by helping me to understand the “great and mighty things, which you do not know”. That calmed me considerably and helped me to ensure my husband received the best possible care.

ROYAL DAUGHTER OF THE KING :: Is there a special message you would like to share in closing?

MARTHA :: I have thought very often of what I would say if I could give only one more message in this life. It has its roots in a retreat I led many years ago. The theme was, “What does God say … will you trust Him?” The first part, “What does God say…” is meant to underscore the importance of learning the entire Bible from cover to cover and making absolutely sure we interpret it accurately. The second part, “…will you trust Him?” underscores the importance of then applying all of God’s Word to our life, leaving none of it out.

A word about the work involved in learning the Bible: My husband enjoys old westerns. I have sat beside him so many times watching the familiar scene where a miner is laboriously digging for gold deep within the recesses of a mine. It is always in a rugged locale, and usually very hot. The miner is always dusty and tired and thirsty. But he keeps on digging. Why does he persist? Because he believes he will find gold if he just keeps digging long enough. While these are just movie scenes, we know from history that similar scenes have been played out in real life by real people mining for gold. The Bible is a mine full of gold, far more valuable than any gold that can be mined from the earth. Is it not reasonable then, for us to make the effort to obtain it?

Why would I want to leave this particular message when there are so many other things I could say? The reason is that I have lived long enough to prove Jesus Christ according to His Word and I have found Him true. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. I yearn for everyone to come to know Him as their Savior and Lord so that they can receive the free gift of eternal salvation He has earned for us by His death on the cross in payment for our sins. I yearn for everyone to experience His reality in their daily lives, to enjoy the awareness of His loving presence, and to be filled with the hope and assurance that nothing we face in this life is insurmountable when we place our full trust in Him.

Blessings to you, Johanna and Bethany, for inviting me to this interview. I have appreciated the opportunity to share my heart with you and your readers.

Love in Jesus,
Grandma Martha

1 Words of Grace:

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much Beathany and Johanna for putting this on! And Thank you Mrs.Danell for sharing this with us. It was such an encouragement to me.
emily j.