Now may the God of peace— who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, and ratified an eternal covenant with his blood— may he equip you with all you need for doing his will. May he produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to him. All glory to him forever and ever! Amen.
Hebrews 13:20-21 NLT
My story begins on the East Coast in the city of Newark, New Jersey. Janet Gale Renner (me) was born to Conrad Charles Renner and Jeanette Agnes Galuszka at St. Michael’s Hospital on June 16th, 1947.
Born just after the end of WWII, this firstborn girl of eventually seven spent the first five and a half years in Newark. There I attended a half -year of kindergarten before our family moved to Tucson, Arizona because of my dad’s health.
We settled into a little cinder-block home in a “new development” on the backside of the desert, south of Tucson. There were lots of young families with lots of kids and working dads. Hughes Aircraft Co was not away far and that was where my tool & die maker dad went day after day to earn us a living.
During those three and a half years in Tucson, I attended All Saints’ School across from our parish church in the old part of downtown Tucson. This would have been from about 1953-1956 or so. And I thought of those downtown buildings as old even then. So that “Old West” idea was true to my young mind.
This was especially true when it came to the day trips we took on weekends across desert roads, dip by dip, on the road to the then fairly new movie set called “Old Tucson.” There was no admission back then … no one was around many of those days. My two sisters and eventually two brothers and I would roam around and pretend we were “in jail” or buying things in Olsen’s Mercantile or praying at the old movie set “mission.”
But the real “ancient” Spanish mission wasn’t far away. San Xavier del Bac Mission was on an Indian reservation and is still functioning today as a church and mission to the Native Americans who live there. Just like at the movie set, we kids roamed around and took in all the religiousness and the Spanish American style of devotion in that mission church and surrounding area. And we also took in the shocking poverty of the lives of those who lived there.
So it was in Tucson that began my love affair with the desert Southwest and everything about it. And little did I know that one day I would be back to this place where God would meet me in a very special way as an adult (but that’s for Stone #4).
As I remember those early years of life and our time in Tucson, my primary memories revolve around my mom.* She was my rock, my model, my mentor, my security. Memories of my mom and me (probably with a baby sibling or two somewhere in the area) sitting on our western-style couch in our living room hold the greatest impact for me. We would together page through our big formal family Bible. You know the one: with the gilt edges, the glossy full page color pictures (few and far between), the thin “holy” pages of words, and the fancy “certificates” on the front pages that recorded important family events like marriage, baptisms, communions, deaths, etc.
Reverence for God and the things of God, the importance of His Will and my doing it, all became foundational to my life. Why? Because they were foundational to who my mother was. And she instilled those truths. “The most important thing in life is to do the will of God.” If she hadn’t said this verbatim, she got it across to my young mind and heart through her words and ways … always with great love and affection.
In later years as I would grow in my relationship with God, I came to understand much more how it all fit together. But I am so grateful to God that my first remembering stone in my spiritual journey is Knowing and doing the Will of God lovingly and clearly learned at the knee of my first mentor, Jeanette Agnes Galuszka Renner, my beloved mother.
Thank you, God, for this treasured foundational truth delivered to my young heart by my precious mom. She was Your humble servant. I long to be that also by Your grace. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
*For more about my mom: My Mother … My Hero
Before starting your own remembering stones, be sure to read the introduction to this series: Remembering Stones: Reflecting on a Life Being Lived. This will help you with perspective.
What about you, dear reader? What is your first “remembering stone.” Was there a significant person, place, truth that impacted you in your early years?
Jot down even the hard things that happened in your life. You can then process them with the Lord. Watch how He takes those struggles and trials, as time goes on, and “filters” them into the truths about Himself and about your life that you can build upon.
Just start writing or journaling your thoughts — no need to write it up formally. I had started out with “Topics” and descriptions long before I started writing it up formally.
Happy and real reminiscing, recording, and writing!
And a shameless plug: The with-ness of our God ( Kirkus Review)