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Me Defy? Oh My!

February 28, 2020

Another Way for week of February 21, 2020

Me Defy? Oh My!

(Seventh in a ten-part series on physical, mental, relational, and spiritual health.)

Our seventh action verb for this week is defy. That scares me. How am I going to write about defy?

I am not an in-your-face kind of person. I don’t recall ever participating in an outright protest about anything. Sorry folks. I have never wanted to make enemies on either side. I have strong beliefs and my family and friends mostly know them. I just don’t put them out there in public. I’ve signed some petitions, wrote plenty of letters, even sent opinions to editorial pages.

When I was younger, I wasn’t one to defy my parents or their wishes—unless it was in the area of marrying a man who was not of our faith denomination. Both Christian, I have never hidden the fact in my writing that he grew up Lutheran and I grew up Mennonite and we compromised by going Presbyterian. When we had all three daughters baptized as infants in our Presbyterian church, I maybe defied the wishes of my father. I know we disappointed him in that.

So I have to ponder, why and how is defy a good action word for us?

A hymn we sang recently gave me new inspiration. Based on the poem or writings of St. Francis of Assisi (or at least attributed to him), I loved these lyrics adapted by Sebastian Temple in 1967:

Make me a channel of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me bring your love.
Where there is despair in life, let me bring hope,
Where there is darkness, only light,
And where there’s sadness, ever joy.

These approaches to life certainly defy the status quo. It is an ongoing struggle to face life with hope and joy when so much sadness, anger, evil, and misunderstanding seem to stain and drag down everyday life.

Grandma Miller, right; Grandpa Miller, left. This is the way I remember them. Probably on their 60th wedding anniversary, which I do not remember.

It takes defiance to forgive, to keep on giving when one you love does not give back, to pray when there do not seem to be any answers, to get up and go to chemo another day—even to send your littles out the door to school.

Another word for much the same thing is dare and here I think of my grandmother on my father’s side, who died when I was ten. Grandma Miller, as we called her, (her name was Barbara) lost two of her children, one at about 13 months and the other at age 22 of the Spanish flu epidemic. Grandpa and Grandma had nine children altogether, but I’m sure she grieved and missed these two daughters as any mother would.

As an infant, she also lost her own mother just hours after she was born. Then at the tender age of five, she lost her father, whom she remembered well. Like others in that era, she had to go live with relatives and was shuffled around—those families were always large, and it was hard to house and feed all the children.

So Grandma Miller was acquainted with sorrow, grief, and loss, yet she defied the odds she faced in the beginning, and raised a beautiful and loving family. Somewhere she and Grandpa instilled in my own father his deep and abiding passion to help others. I’m sure you have had parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles who have taught you these great lessons and alternative approaches to trial and sadness.

Grandma Stauffer whom I remember well, lived into her 90s and was able to hold and meet my children. Photo courtesy of Judy Yoder, my cousin.

My grandmother on my mother’s side lost her husband in a car accident when they were just in their 50s. She was a seamstress and supported herself the rest of her long life by doing sewing for others, especially alterations, using an old-fashioned treadle sewing machine (not electric).

So, defying can mean facing your life with grit and determination and a loving attitude in spite of grief, loss, hard times. Now that’s a defiance I’d like to take with me in life. Thanks, Grandma Miller and Grandma Stauffer.

Will you be that kind of role model for your children and grandchildren? God, make us a channel of your peace. May we defy odds and live with joy in our hearts.


More on Grandma Stauffer found here and here.

More on Grandma Miller found here.

Grandma Ruth Stauffer as a young girl, probably 8th grade graduation. She was allowed to be “fancy” as shown here, before she joined the church.

Grandma Barbara Miller, on her wedding day.


How do you demonstrate defiance–in a good way??

What do you admire most about your grandparents if you had the privilege of knowing them?

What lessons did they teach with their lives?

What would you NOT do that they did?

Comment here!

Or send your stories or comments to me at or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

I will make this series available in a PDF to send out by email at the series’ conclusion. You can request it now and I’ll send it to you in a few weeks.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication.





  1. Mike permalink

    I have learned so much from my grandparents and I am still learning from my great grandfather through his diary. Every now and then I pick it up and read through his life experiences. Even though I do not currently attend a Mennonite church there’s so much I cherish from the theology that have been passed down for many generations. Some have done a good job to live it and others not so much but it’s so interesting to see that so many were willing to die for their beliefs.

  2. What a way to honor Grandma Miller and Grandma Stauffer in these pages. They did what they could with what they had. As you know, my Grandma was fancy before she joined the church.

    Like you, I am mostly peace-loving and resist confrontation – until I can’t. My most public defiance occurred when I led my neighborhood in pushing back on Walmart’s mad expansion into the woods and wetlands of our community.

    Thanks for all this, and for the adaptation of the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi. 😀

    • Yes, Marian, they could never have imagined such a thing as a blog or sharing so much online, I’m sure. 🙂 I was pretty shocked the first time I saw the fancy picture of my grandma–she also had a locket on, I don’t think my picture of a picture through glass turned out sharp enough. Not sure what happened to the locket.

      Way to go on leading your neighborhood in pushing back. Did it stop the expansion? I don’t recall reading about that–maybe longer ago.

  3. Beverly Silver permalink

    Thank you Melodie – beautifully written. I tend to defy, inside, and verbally, outside but don’t always take action. We can do it this year, by voting! I send this on to two friends, one you know, the other , no. All I can say is thank you for your ideas, and expressing them so meaningfuly.

    • Beverly you are a loyal reader, and sharing the posts is very helpful. Thanks. I do alot of defying inside too. 🙂 Just don’t let ulcers happen!

  4. A lovely post! I especially enjoyed seeing the family photos you included with it. Your posts always brighten my day — and make me stop and ponder. Have a wonderful week!

  5. I’m glad you could enjoy the family photos even though you don’t know the family. 🙂

    Today has dawned warmer, sunny and blue skies, lovely Sunday. Thanks for showing up here and leaving a comment, my writer/blogger friend! Are you still submitting to Purpose? I hope so. And I need to figure out if anything I want to share/write could make it into Chicken Soup. 🙂

    Blessings on your week as well. I actually missed posting last weekend due to my mother’s surgery, so I’m posting a catch up one on Monday or Tuesday.

  6. Marilyn Yoder permalink

    Grandma Stauffer also earned money by renting her farm land to Art Paulus, her neighbor. She also had a good garden. Grandma was stubborn and determined. I enjoyed going to Grandma’s house and talking. Sometimes she let me pick the raspberries in her patch and take some home. Those were good times.

    • Thank you for adding these additional comments about our grandma. I certainly forgot about her renting her farm land. You were lucky to live within walking distance. Umm wouldn’t some fresh raspberries taste great these days!

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