Three-Strand Pearls


For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you—that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.
– Romans 1:11-12

It isn’t until we look back at the events and experiences in our lives that we see the beautiful pearls God used along the way to make our lives lovely strands of His goodness and grace. I’ve been thinking about the pearls in my life lately − those people God providentially placed in my life to shape me, teach me, love me and draw me to Him.

I was an only child AND the only grandchild on my father’s side of the family until I was 9 years old, not to mention, the first great-grandchild. Growing up I spent most weekends at my Grandma’s house because I loved being there. (Well, actually my great-grandmother, uncle, aunt and Grandma all lived together in an old white house with dark green shutters on a hill in tiny Clifton, S.C.) I was … ok I’ll say it … not spoiled, but really loved a lot!

I won’t lie; it was wonderful having all that attention. I remember sitting with my great-grandmother (Ma-Ma) and talking, rocking in her chair while she held me in her lap. She taught me how to be still and listen. My aunt Winifred and I would paint our nails or bake. And if I remember correctly, she taught me how to set a proper table. She also taught me the beauty of serving others. My uncle Don and I would spend hours playing the piano and singing. Uncle Don taught me the joy that comes from making music to the Lord. And my grandma and I would go shopping, talk, laugh like crazy and play cards (I was playing rummy at the age of four, I’m fairly certain, and winning!).

I have so many wonderful memories from my times at Grandma’s house. But I can tell you without a doubt that one of the most vivid memories I have − a memory that is forever burned into my heart and mind − is the memory of listening to my Grandmother pray every night as I would drift off to sleep. It was … beautiful, and looking back I realize that her example taught me how to pray.

My maternal grandmother loved the Lord with all her heart, and she was a woman of worship. I have vivid memories in my mind of seeing her at church worshiping the Lord with abandonment. She was in love with her Savior, and she didn’t care who knew it. She taught me to worship freely and not concern myself with how others viewed my outward worship and expression of love for Jesus.

And then there’s my precious mother. She loves God’s Word. I remember seeing her read the Bible as a child, and throughout my college experience she consistently encouraged me by sharing Scripture and praying for me without ceasing! Her example of passion for God’s Word and for prayer left a lasting impact on my life that caused me to hunger for God and His Word.

One of the greatest things my mother ever did for me was invite me to a Bible study. After coming back home from graduate school, she asked me to attend Bible Study Fellowship International with her. This was the first in-depth Bible study I had ever participated in, and it changed my life! It was a study on the Gospel of John. Listen to this key verse in John 20:31: “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”

What a precious gift my mother gave me when she invited me to study God’s Word with her. Through the study of the Gospel of John, I came to fully understand the love of Jesus and the power of His Word to change a life … my life. Within the pages of this book we see the life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus.

One of my favorite parts of John is the example we see of Jesus teaching and equipping His disciples and those who followed Him in His ministry. They received tremendous on-the-job training as they experienced firsthand the servant attitude and humble heart of Jesus. In John 13 we see Jesus wash the disciples’ feet. In chapter 17 we read Jesus’ high priestly prayer for believers. As we read on, we see His example of unconditional love when “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Finally, at the end of John we see Jesus speaking intimately to Peter, encouraging him to feed His lambs, tend His sheep and feed His sheep (John 21:15-17).

God is still equipping us for life today by delicately placing those pearls of wisdom, grace and goodness into our lives. He did that for me last May.

My precious mother – you know the one I’m supposed to bless on Mother’s Day, gave me a gift last year on this special day. That’s just like her, though, always being a blessing … always thoughtful. When she presented me with this treasured gift, she had me open the box first and then the card. When I saw the beautiful three-strand pearl necklace I almost cried. They were lovely. So elegant, graceful and … southern, just like my Mama. She said, as I admired the extravagant gift,

Every woman needs three-strand pearls.

Then I opened the card. It was a beautiful card, filled with sweet sentiments and affirmations on what a great mom I am. (I don’t feel like I’m a great mom most days. I feel like an unorganized, frazzled, mess much of the time!) The hand-written note said …

Dearest Daughter of Mine,

These pearls are three strands for my three wonderful grandchildren. Thank you for being such a wonderful mother to them. I am blessed to have you as my beautiful daughter. When you wear these pearls, remember what they represent and remember how much your mother loves you!!!

                                                                                              Your Mama

How precious these pearls will always be to me. How precious my mother is to me. They will, of course, remind me of my children, but they will also remind me of this verse found in Ecclesiastes.

A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken. – Ecclesiastes 4:12 (NLT)

The three-strand pearls and this verse remind me that as a mother (as a woman), I need not isolate myself and try to do everything on my own. There is an important and deep Biblical principle in this passage …

There’s power in numbers!

That’s right! We can easily be defeated, beaten down and discouraged if left on our own. The enemy loves to find our weak and vulnerable spots, and they are easiest to find when we are isolated and alone. So it’s not always wise to attempt to do everything with no help.

But we do have help. That triple-braided cord is beautiful imagery for us, just like my pearls. We have God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit as our triple-braided cord. We know God will never leave us, and He places “pearls” in our lives to help us and equip us for the God-ordained purpose He has for each of us.

So whom else do we have to rely on? God has blessed us with multiple resources – family, friends, our church, His Word, prayer, the presence of Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

Often, however, we choose not to access these resources. Instead, because of fear, pride, rejection or unbelief, we try to do everything on our own. In doing that, we make ourselves very vulnerable for attack and feel alone, guilty, discouraged and utterly powerless.

Here’s something else I discovered as I stared at those beautiful pearls. It was the loving example of multiple women (and men) God placed in my life who led authentic and godly lives in front of me that helped me realize and fulfill my purpose for His Kingdom. They prayed, they worshipped, they studied the Word, they served and they loved. And without even knowing it, they taught me to do the same.

And there are others, so many other pearls of goodness God used to influence me … My Aunt Frances directed me to look at life through the lens of joy rather than worry or fear. My Aunt Carole showed me that presenting oneself with excellence to others brings glory to God. My second mom, Mrs. Jan, encouraged me to apply my faith to my daily life (and taught me how to make the best banana pudding ever!). My Uncle Donnie displayed to me the power of perseverance under suffering, and my Daddy … his example of preaching God’s Word faithfully Sunday after Sunday inspired me to speak boldly for the Lord.

What about you? Who are the pearls in your life that helped you become who you are today? What did you learn from them?

Are you feeling alone today? Do you feel powerless to accomplish your tasks? Do you need some encouragement with parenting, in your job, with a relationship or with some other issue?

Remember, you’re not alone. Think of those three-strand pearls my mom gave me. One strand is pretty, two are quite lovely, but three are simply exquisite. They complement each other and make a gorgeous addition to life.

Let’s come alongside one another and support, lift up, inspire and encourage. That’s what my mom was doing when she gave me those pearls. She wasn’t just giving me a nice heirloom to pass along to my daughter. Those pearls won’t just add flair to an outfit. Those three-strand pearls inspired and encouraged me far beyond that. Every time I see them, I am reminded that God has been faithful throughout my life to place someone in my path to teach, encourage and equip me to become the woman He had in mind when He created me.

Thank you, Mama, for my three-strand pearls, but mostly thank you for always being there for me! I love you!

Practical tips when you need a hand:

  • Look to the Lord. Ask Him for help.
  • Seek godly counsel.
  • Don’t be afraid or too proud to ask for help.

Practical ways you can encourage someone today:

  • Pray and ask God to show you who you need to reach out.
  • Make a phone call, send a card or email of encouragement.
  • Perform a random act of kindness for someone.
  • If you have access to your daughter’s or a friend’s home, take a few hours and clean for them. (Do not break in!! Access their home only if you have a key.)
  • Volunteer to babysit for free.
  • Take someone to lunch or for coffee.
  • Invite them over for afternoon tea. (I know that sounds old-fashioned but really, what’s wrong with that?)
  • Surprise someone with a basket of goodies, a plate of cookies or dinner.
  • If you have flowers in your yard, pick some and make a bouquet for someone and leave it on their doorstep.
  • Sit and just listen to someone who needs to talk.
  • Find someone who doesn’t have a mom in town and mentor her.

Mrs. Jan’s Banana Pudding:

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 vegetable size spoon of flour
  • 2 tsp. vanilla flavoring
  • 1 small container whipping cream
  • 1 box of Nilla wafers
  • 5-6 bananas
  • 1 small container Cool Whip

Combine eggs, milk, sugar, whipping cream and flour in a mixer and mix thouroughly. Pour into a large pot and cook until it thickens. Cool and add vanilla flavoring. In glass bowl, layer sauce, wafers, bananas and then repeat. End with wafers and sauce on top, then cover with cool whip. Chill, serve, and enjoy!