Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Catherine Marshall, A Closer Walk

Catherine Marshall Lesourd (1914-1983)

I live in a book-rich house. Each time we shift furniture around--we recently housed the girls in one room, the boys in another--I come across book after book in shelves, beckoning me. Mothering four young children leaves time for little else, so starting a book means Scripture or prayer, or both, must be cut short. Not to mention couple time.

My walk with Christ is the main thing; my family is the medium by which He sanctifies me. And so as I make choices about my time, my lifeblood (God) and my purpose (reflect the light of Christ for family) provide the framework for decision making.

I came across Catherine Marshall: A Closer Walk last weekend. If you've been a Christian long you've likely heard of Catherine Marshall. A prolific author, with her two books A Man Called Peter (1951) and later, Christy (1967), she gained national notoriety and was beloved by believers and non-believers alike.

Peter Marshall, her first husband, served as Pastor of New York Avenue Presbyterian Church and as Chaplain of the United States Senate. Much beloved in America, he died in 1949 from a heart attack, leaving Catherine a widow, raising nine-year-old son Peter John Marshall by herself.

A widow ten years, in 1959 Catherine married Leonard Lesourd, longtime editor of Guideposts Magazine. Nearly five years her junior, Leonard was a single dad with three young children, ages 3, 6, and 10. The couple met when Catherine was 44 years old--enjoying a successful career as a national speaker and author.

A victim of tuberculosis, which she contracted in 1943 when antibiotic treatment wasn't available, Catherine had only 75% lung functioning when she became a stepmother to Leonard's three young children. One can only imagine the prayer sessions she wrestled with, in deciding to marry Leonard just three months after their courtship began. While she certainly loved him, becoming a stepmother at age 44, with reduced lung capacity, is clearly something she did with a strength not her own.

All of her adult life Catherine kept journals in which she recorded her quiet time musings. Catherine Marshall; A Closer Walk, the book I'm now reading, was published three years after her death and includes entries from her personal journal, during her twenty-four years of marriage to Leonard. She gave her husband and her longtime editor and friend, Elizabeth Sherrill, permission to disclose the contents.

As I re-shelved dozens of books last weekend, this one stood out. The Holy Spirit seemed to say, you will make time to read this. And blog it.

The blog it part scared me. How do you summarize someone's journal? And besides, I'm horrible at summarizing. I hate it.

Despite that, I'm doing this. Out of obedience. I'm taking you along for a ride into the mind and heart of an incredible woman. She wasn't perfect, mind you. Her perfectionism even drives me crazy (a fellow perfectionist) as I read this book, edited by her husband, who provides much insight.

For example, she once had her husband drive her three hours on a hot day to buy macaroons at a certain bakery. Why? Because they were an ingredient in a sauce she wanted to top a dessert!  These preparations weren't for a wedding or other momentous occasion. It was merely a dinner party for special friends!

Catherine wasn't an incredible women because she was perfect. She was incredible because of her love for God, and because of her devotion to His word.

Join me and be inspired, will you, as we learn what genuine, unwavering devotion to God looks like?


Sandi said...

Sounds like fun.

I loved the book Christy. I only read several years ago though I'd known about it for years.

Christine said...

I loved that book too. My Christian aunt sent it to me when I was young. What a blessing!