Two years ago last week, my Grandma Leone passed away. She was a woman of incredible faith. She was a voracious reader. She was a prayer warrior. She was lots of fun. She always had Nutty Bars at her house when we came to visit. I loved being around her and looked up to her my entire life. 

I’ve been thinking a lot about my grandma the past few days. One of her deepest desires was for her kids and grand-kids come to know Jesus Christ the way she knew him. As Lord of her life. As a constant companion and guide. As her Savior. She prayed… and she flooded us with an abundance of Christian books, movies and tapes that became the narrative and soundtrack of my childhood. Some people can quote lines from movies and are well versed in the pop music of their childhood. I am clueless about that stuff, but play the opening song from  Adventures in Odyssey and I am right there with you.

At some point, my grandma sent us a copy of GT and the Halo Express. Anyone else remember this? It’s a story of a quarreling brother and sister who are visited by angels who help them learn how to get along. Along the way, there are a bunch of Bible verses set to music. The theme song tells listeners that “memorizing can be fun!” This tape was probably purchased by lots of parents and grandparents who hoped the little people in their lives would hear and believe. And it totally worked on me. I loved this tape. I remember listening to it on my Walkman in the back of the van on family trips. I knew every word of the story and the songs.

I thought about GT last week as I was thinking about Grandma Leone and decided to look for it. It is still around, and I found it right away on YouTube. Take a listen here if you’re looking for some late 80s Christian entertainment. I still remember every single word and it was an instant hit with my kids. I was grooving along to the cheesy rendition of John 3:16… For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that whoever believes in him shall no perish but have eternal life… Suddenly, my 4 year old stopped dancing and exclaimed “I believe in him!” She told me she wanted Jesus to live in her heart. 

Later that night, my husband and I prayed with her and she did the very thing my grandma, my parents, my husband and I had been praying about since before she was born. She asked Jesus into her heart. It was such a simple and beautiful moment that caught me by surprise. I can’t help but think of my Grandma Leone’s legacy. Of her prayers for her family. Of the tapes and books she sent to us hoping we would hear or read something that would stick. Of her life of faith that continues to impact generations who will never know her.

Grandma and Raya Praise meeting for the first time.

My grandma understood something that I am only beginning to realize. I spend so much time on things that have no eternal significance. But leaving a legacy of faith for my children, for their children, for their children’s children is something that will live on long after I am gone.

Below is a link to an arrangement of a hymn my cousin Sarah and I sang at her funeral. We miss you, Grandma Leone!


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