When I was a little girl, my father smoked. In fact, one of my first memories of him was listening to Herb Albert and the Tijuana Brass, playing on the front porch while he smoked a cigar.
He had a three packs a day habit. In the early '60s, a lot of people smoked. My paternal grandmother smoked. My uncles and aunts. To this day, I love the smell of a lit cigarette.
My older brother and I would ride with Dad to the drug store -- he in his stocking feet -- and run inside for a pack. Can you see it? A five or four year old going up to the counter with a dollar and asking for a pack of Camels?
I'm not sure how my Mom came to this notion, but she started to pray for my dad to quit smoking. I'm not sure if he wanted to or if she thought he should. She didn't nag him. My brothers and I were not subject to big fights over cigarettes.
Every day she had my older brother and then younger brother (there were only 3 kids then) pray for Dad to quit smoking.
"Let's ask Jesus to help Daddy give up cigarettes."
So we did.
One day my dad opened a new pack of cigarettes, lit up, but spit it out. It tasted bitter. He tried a different cigarette. Then a different pack of cigarettes. All bitter. The taste and desire to smoke was gone.
For the rest of his life, Dad never smoked again. He didn't even have a craving.
What an impression to leave on a young girl's heart. My mom demonstrated faith and holiness, and the heart of Jesus, by teaching us to pray.
I wish I still had the faith of my four-year-old self.
Thanks, Mom. What a terrific inheritance.