A Birthday Tribute

By Lindsay Noreen

Date: July 21, 2017

Category: Sharing the Message of Lutherans For Life, Family Living, Worldview and Culture

On July 8, 2017, a 90th birthday party was held in Lamberton, Minnesota, for Marian Kopperud. Marian and her husband, Roger, (shown above with their great grandson, Jacob) have been longtime supporters of Lutherans For Life. Marian’s granddaughter, Lindsay Noreen, wrote this beautiful tribute. Perhaps it will remind you of someone in your life. It certainly captures Marian very well and is, as Rev. Salemink wrote, “a testimony to the value of the elderly among us.” Lowell Highby

I was asked to write something for this party. I said I would write something, but someone else needed to read it. I was refused that request, so here I am. As I thought back on all the memories I have of Grandma, I realized that they all fall into one of two categories: her hands and her feet. I know that sounds a little strange, but just go with me.

When I think of Grandma the first thing I think of is how giving she is. And not just to us grandkids but to everyone she knows—and even people she doesn’t know, but who will surely never forget her after she spent time with them (and the tracts that she put into their hands at the end of their conversation).

Grandma has always been there for us grandkids. Her hands were in we girls’ hair French braiding it. Her hands were making tea parties for us to have in some tree in the grove behind their house. Her hands carried satchel after satchel filled with goodies for us when they would come for a visit. Her hands were making clues for the scavenger hunts she sent us on around the yard, hiding the thimble, making angel food cake, and soothing our fears.

Grandma’s hands were quick to pull out her camera and take pictures, to which most of us groaned and rolled our eyes: “Not another picture!” Her hands pulled out photo albums for everyone to look at, some filled with people none of us knew but were supposedly related to. “Oh, you know them! They are your second cousin twice removed from your great aunt’s brother in-law.” Of course they are …

Her hands were playing hymns on that old piano and thumbing through the old Precious Memories Bible that we read from every night for devotions. They were putting on her swim cap so she could go swimming in the lake at the ARC [Association Retreat Center] with us every afternoon (after our nap, of course).

Her hands filled her house with calendars—most of which were never for the right year—but she loved the pictures, so they became “art.” There really wasn’t a bare spot on any wall in their house. Pictures of her loved ones, newspaper clippings, and devotionals were everywhere. And the outside was just as vibrant. There were flowers everywhere and where there was an area devoid of color, there were laundry bottle caps on spikes to brighten up an area—you all know what I’m talking about! But the most important thing her hands did were folding together in prayer for every person she loved, knew, or had met in the grocery store five minutes before.

Her feet carried her through the grove every day with us kids, exploring new territory, walking the farm fields, riding bikes down the road, and pulling us in the trailer behind the lawnmower around the farm. They walked us to the school bus, played with us at the park, and ran around the backyard chasing us. Her feet kept going when life got hard because she knew her God was right next to her every step of the way. When she was tired, she still walked on. She persevered, never wavering in her faith that her God would keep her wrapped in His arms.

Her feet carried God’s message of salvation everywhere she went. Every person she met got a conversation they probably weren’t ready for when they said “Hi” to her. But everyone knew that she was passionate about her God. And where her feet couldn’t go, she made sure her blessings were passed to other people so they could share God’s love. We all remember the coffee can under the Christmas tree that had “Mexico” scribbled on it for any extra change we might be carrying.

Grandma has always talked—a lot. Phone conversations were always funny because you were lucky if you got in an “uh huh” before she was off talking about something else. She was just eager to talk to you about her day and what was going on in Grandpa and Grandma’s lives. The four-minute voicemail messages left on all our phones are a testament to that. Grandma may talk a lot, but she never makes you feel like you aren’t important. She wanted to know what was going on in our lives so she could pray us through whatever circumstances we were dealing with.

And who can talk about Grandma without thinking about the letters that we all have received in the mail? Each letter is filled with about seven sheets of paper with her handwriting everywhere. You really have to be on top of how you open that letter in order for all of it to make sense. The cutout devotionals, pictures, stickers, and partial cards have everything you need to know about what is happening in their lives. And, of course, the “May We Share?” at the top of newspaper clippings—those always make me giggle.

While we often tease her for her little quirks, we all know none of us would change her. She has raised four exceptional children who because of her have raised some pretty amazing grandchildren, if I do say so myself. And we love her. We love her strong and unwavering faith. I can honestly say that there is not another person I know who is so passionate about her God and about sharing His amazing story of salvation with everyone she meets.

We love you very much, Grandma. You truly are the hands and feet of Jesus. Happy Birthday.

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