About Grandmas and Mashed Potatoes

March is my beloved grandma’s birthday month, so my thoughts tend to linger on her this time of year.  She now celebrates in heaven with Jesus, where I’m sure she is cooking and sewing up a storm:)

I was actually making mashed potatoes this week when my thoughts started wandering to the two women who shaped my life in so many ways; my Mom and Grandma. Not because they are necessarily known for their mashed potatoes, they are much rather renowned for South African favorites such as vetkoek, kookkos, and kerrie&rys (sorry you have to be South African to know what I’m talking about).

No, the mashed potatoes made me think of them for a reason that had nothing to do with cooking at all…

Beth Moore once said that we find ourselves in a good place when Jesus is our “mashed potatoes” and everything or everyone else is simply gravy. I’ve always loved that analogy because, if you think about it, we can in fact eat mashed potatoes all by itself and be totally satisfied. Yes, definitely true that the gravy makes it extra delicious, but we don’t “need” the gravy.

I so desire this kind of relationships with Jesus: One where I am grateful for the people and things He put in my life, but I don’t desperately cling to those things for dear life. The kind of relationship where I truly know that HE IS ENOUGH, perhaps because I acknowledge that in the end it will only be HIM and I…

I saw over the years how my sweet Grandma and also my Mom gravitated towards this kind of “mashed potato relationship” with Jesus. The three of us are all cut from the same cloth really. We have tender hearts for people, and very often find ourselves hurt and trampled upon for that very reason. However, those many times that our hearts were broken seemed to be the exact kind of fertile ground needed to surrender more to Jesus.

My Mom dealt with more sorrow and pain in her life than I can even fathom, in fact, hers is a life of very little “gravy” to speak of. Even so, I see her becoming more and more dependent on the “mashed potatoes”, or as the Word calls Him, the TRUE VINE.  I saw her strength being renewed when I was sure she could never get up again. I saw her forgive when I was sure I could not have done it at all. Best of all, I still see her joy and satisfaction come back again and again as she keeps turning to Jesus in the midst of trials.

And then there was my sweet grandma. Just thinking of the things she had to see and endure in her lifetime makes me shudder. Yet, she never stopped searching and yearning for the “mashed potatoes”, while all along thanking her Father for the gravy too. Like most of us it didn’t come without a lot of hurt and enough reason to become bitter, and yet she chose for Jesus to mold her into His image, instead of allowing the enemy to harden her heart.

This is what I want to keep searching for until I draw my final breath and join my Grandma in heaven: The “real mashed potatoes”, or as the Bible puts it; “life in abundance” which is only found in JESUS!

Nobody penned the ending of a godly woman (such as my Grandma) better than Beth did in the excerpt below. I pray that this humorous and most tender word picture she painted will give you a renewed hunger for God, and bless you as much as it did me.

It was her 90th birthday. She didn’t plan to live this long. She couldn’t help it. She just kept waking up.
Her youngest son’s spacious home bulged with extended family. She acted as surprised by her party as a 90 year old can act. She cackled to herself. They obviously thought her growing lack of conversation was evidence of a growing lack of sense.  Why would she be surprised? They had thrown her a surprise party for the past 5 years. She guessed they figured she’d forget. What the party really meant was they were surprised she was still alive. Oh, she did love them, though. Every one of them.
Pretty bags and bows crowded the coffee table. Now what in heaven’s name was she going to do with a bunch of gifts? And how many pair of socks does a woman need? But that cake was looking mighty tasty. The great-grand kids had insisted on putting all 90 candles on the cake. 

The youngest great-grandchild grabbed her by the hand. “Come on Mammie! It’s time to blow the candles out” She grinned and asked God to help her keep her teeth in. Time suddenly seemed to freeze. She looked around the room and studied the faces. Life had been good – painful at times, but God had always been faithful. She had been a widow for 23 years. Her last years had been pleasant. Her family made sure of that. But she grew less and less able to participate. She found herself mostly just watching life. 

The insistence of the impatient five year old finally grew clear. “Mammie, COME ON!”
Before she could draw a breath, all the little ones blew out the candles. Only blood relatives would have eaten that cake after the spraying it took.
Later she sat at her old vanity as her daughter-in-law tenderly took the pins from her wispy white hair. She stared at the yellowed mirror. When had she gotten so old? Where had the years gone? Her daughter-in-law brushed the strands gently, chattering incessantly about he evening. As she helped her with her gown and tucked her in , the old woman felt so weary. Her body hurt just to lie down. 

The soft mattress seemed to swallow her frame. She rested her slight weight and stared at the stars out the window. She heard the familiar sound of the 1o:00 train going over the bridge and nearly shivered as she remembered her baptism in those cold waters underneath. She smiled and voiced a good-night prayer to the Savior she had loved since childhood. She didn’t say much. “Thank You Jesus. Thank You” Almost before she could close her eyes, deep sleep overtook her.

Suddenly, her slumber was startled by the most beautiful voice she had ever heard, coming form a man standing over her. “Arise, My darling, My beautiful one, and come with Me. See! The winter is past, the rains are over and gone…the season of singing has come”

BETH MOORE, Breaking Free, p147 


Jesus wants to heal your broken heart, and create beauty from your ashes today dearest friend. Allow Him to soften your heart and use your pain to bring you closer to Him. He is everything you could ever need or desire, and He is waiting for you to come to Him…

Your sister in Christ



3 thoughts on “About Grandmas and Mashed Potatoes”

  1. Hi Heleen,

    Tears are running down my face, reading this. How I miss Ouma. This could have been her story. And your memory of Ouma is so real. I felt like picking up the phone and tell her what you wrote. Thanks for that.

    Love you lots Cousin!

  2. The two women that influenced me are my mom and my grandma. My grandmother taught me to sew, cook. She taught all of her granddaughters to love God, have mad money, and never learn how to clean catfish. She joined my mom in heaven in 1997.

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