Marjorie Rutherford: A Testimony to God's Faithfulness

To watch Marjorie Rutherford as she persistently maneuvers the ramp at church with a smile, you can’t help but think of Job 23:11, My foot has held fast to His path; I have kept His way and not turned aside.
What brought her to faithfully seeking God’s people every week without fail, even though difficult?
Here’s her story.

Marjorie Rutherford was born August 31, 1926 in Iowa.
At four, her twelve-year-old sister had Scarlet Fever. Marjorie stayed downstairs while her sister recovered, since she was already exposed, but her father and brother had to leave the house.
When she was five, her family moved to Arizona where her father was a principal and superintendent of an Indian school.
Her dad was a happy person, giving joy to their family in spite of his long days away. He found time to act in the “Chekhov” plays (plays from a Russian playwright).
In contrast, her mother was a “worry-wart, and made us behave.” She had “trouble enjoying people.”
Marjorie was eight, when things changed at her house. For the next two years, her dad was in and out of the hospital with TB and diabetes. Attempting to support his family in spite of his health, he left the Indian school and taught physics and science, but struggled to keep up.
Many times, Marjorie couldn’t see or talk with him, except by a wave from his second-story hospital window.
Her dad died when she was ten. Her sister was 17. Her brother was 14.
That was the year her sister went to college, the following year married.
That was also the year, her mother had a nervous breakdown. She didn’t attend her daughter’s wedding, nor approve of her new son-in-law.
But He knows the way I take; when He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold. Job 23:10
God was bringing out the gold in Marjorie.

Teenage Years
While attending revival meetings at a church in Clemensu (a mining ghost town now), she found God. She knew her sins were taken away by the “bubbling up in her heart.”
Going to Jerome, a small town nearby, was a big event. (It started sinking a year after the town was built, due to the mining underground.) She described the night sky glowing from the slag that the mines dumped.
Her teenage years, she attended church in Glendale, AZ where they had moved.
While attending church there, she meant her best friend. Attending the youth activities, she and her best friend would arrive first. Her friend’s brother brought her.
Lowell, her friend’s brother, joined the Air Force, but before leaving, asked his sister, “Ask Marjorie, ‘If I write you, will you write back?’”
That started a two-and-a-half-year writing saga. Servicemen could send letters free. She paid for the $.03 stamps. She wrote when she received a letter. Soon it was an everyday journal.
Marjorie’s mother said, “If I’d have known all this letter writing would lead to marriage, I wouldn’t have allowed it.”
But allowed or not, when Lowell was on leave, he visited Marjorie in Phoenix and asked if she’d go to church with him.
Marjorie concerned about the gas rationing (he had already driven 100 miles to Phoenix) asked, “How will I get home?” Although embarrassed after saying it, she still waited for his response.
Lowell unflustered said, “Well, my Plymouth still runs.”
When they arrived at church, the pastor was a bit surprised. Lowell had attended the revival meeting the night before with a different girl. He worked out his girlfriends.
And in 1944, they were engaged. Lowell flew back from where he was stationed in Florida four times during their engagement. He was crew chief, requiring inspection of the plane before take-off. During wartime, the boys were never out of uniform, except to shower and sleep.

On July 25, 1945, they were married at their former church. Marjorie comfortable with her former pastor, requested him to officiate. The current pastor remarked, “He’s too busy.” But to Marjorie’s relief, her former pastor consented—in spite of the current pastor “not being happy about it.”
Only thirteen people were able to attend their wedding. It was held at noon so they could leave by three.

Three or four years after they were married, while attending revival meetings at their church, Lowell confirmed his salvation, rededicated his heart to God and was baptized. There was some concern with the baptism. Lowell’s 6’5” frame had to be fully dunked by a short pastor in a small baptismal pool, but Lowell “scrunched down and fit.” And their steps continued to be ordered by the Lord.

Marjorie attributes their good marriage to sticking with the Bible and church.
What did they do to make their marriage strong? Talk. Didn’t do anything on their own. Give and take. Struggles in their marriage made them trust the Lord to think about each other.
Knowing their family’s musical abilities, music played a major part of their lives.
Lowell played anything with strings: mandolin, electric bass, guitar. He taught his boys guitar. Their daughter played the accordion. She could play in any key. Marjorie played piano. They would play and sing in hospitals and church.

Creating a Happy Home
Marjorie strove to create a happy house, that included discipline.
She laughed with a twinkle in her eyes. “Boys are harder to raise than girls.”
She sometimes doubted her authority over her boys who towered over her in height. They were required to make their bed and straighten their rooms before school. The two boys were wrestling on the bed when she found them. She told them, “Stand at attention.” She was surprised but relieved when they actually stood at attention and listened.
Regular beds didn’t hold their frames. Their father’s 6’5” frame fit diagonally on their queen size bed. She gave him extra room. But the boys, she shook her head. They never did fit on a regular bed.

The boys retell of her using the Bolo Paddle (a paddle with a rubber ball attached by a bungee string) for “encouraging obedience,” while her husband used his belt. Although she can’t remember when he had to use it. She never left the discipline of the day for her husband to address when he got home. Instead she created a happy home for his return, making sure the house was clean and ready for him. She also sent him to work with a good breakfast and a packed lunch.

Lowell drove 45 minutes to work. If he dropped a screw as he repaired airplane engines, he wouldn’t pick it up—it’d be too hot to touch.

When JoAnne, her daughter, was 11, Marjorie had been reading about diabetes, especially since her father had it. JoAnne brought home candy from a party because she “didn’t want it.” When she was too tired to go to school, though she loved school, Marjorie grew concerned. When she suggested JoAnne ride her bike, and she tried, but again said she was “too tired.” Marjorie took her to the doctor and told him about her readings in diabetes. He didn’t know anything about it, but sent her to a specialist, who admitted JoAnne immediately to the hospital. Before she was sent home, Marjorie was trained on how to give insulin shots and adjust the blood sugar.

Although Lowell could fix any plane to make it fly, he would not give a shot to his daughter. Marjorie found the strength to do it. That became her life until JoAnne took over in high school or college.

When her daughter was in high school, and her sons were in 2nd and 5th grades, Marjorie started working to save for their college. At first, she was a school noon-supervisor, working for $1.50 an hour. Later when an accountant position became available, she took it and liked it.

Her mother heard her children address her as “Mother,” so she wanted to be called, “Grandmother.” She wasn’t one to have toys for the grandchildren. Whereas the Rutherford grandmother was “Grandma,” and her house had grandchildren’s toys.

In explaining Marjorie’s mother, Marjorie recounted how her mom’s mom (her own grandmother), died when her mom was sixteen. Anything she did had to be approved by her two brothers and dad.  She wanted to work in an office. They didn’t think she was “that kind of girl.” She was allowed to be a teacher or a milliner (hat maker). Her happiest job was when she did work in an office at the “Bureau of Recommendation.” When working for a power company, she flew in a helicopter.

Lowell reminded her, even with her worry-wart disposition, “only one bolt holds that engine together.” He had to fly in every plane he finished working on. After his time in the service, he never flew again.

Her mother, raised in the Mid-west, made great stews. Marjorie remembers smelling the roast, onions and potatoes cooking on Saturday night, to be ready for dinner after church on Sunday.

Although watching her mom cook, Marjorie learned more cooking from her mother-in-law, especially enchiladas, her favorite meal. They would eat with them every Sunday noon meal. The kids had a great time with Lowell’s father, “Grandpa.” He was a stranger to no one.

Marjorie cooked what Lowell liked, except spinach. Everyone else liked it. Lowell would pass the spinach to the children and say, “I want to make sure you have enough.” The children didn’t know until they were grown he didn’t like spinach.

Lowell’s family made visits to relatives a priority throughout their marriage. They returned to Nebraska (never flying), where he was born and lived until he was 17. He knew everyone in town.

Marjorie, on the other hand, never saw her Iowa relatives again. She didn’t know them, nor have a car or gas to visit them growing up.

When attending church in Chula Vista, they asked many servicemen home for dinner. It started with just dinner after going to the church services, but developed into a weekend, setting up beds in a breezeway outside their house for anyone who wanted to come. They played baseball at a nearby high school, including their own young children.

Marjorie retired two years earlier than she wanted, upon Lowell’s insisting, so they could “watch the grandkids grow.” She was glad she listened.

Her mother, still the worry-wart, wouldn’t move to a state “That would fall off in the ocean.” When she did finally move closer to Marjorie and Lowell, Marjorie’s sister received the “happiest” letter from their mom. She seemed finally to find a little contentment.

Lowell took Marjorie’s mother shopping for a watch. When she shopped, she looked at everything, then returned to pick the first watch she saw. Lowell, in his patient manner, took her to all the places she wanted. It was then she finally “liked” Lowell. 

Hard Times
Lowell needed surgery for his kidney stones. He tried to wait for the birth of his youngest son. But couldn’t. While he was having an emergency surgery, Marjorie was delivering their youngest.

When the doctor asked him. “How’s your new son?” He said, “Didn’t know I had one.”

Marjorie attended to their three children: a newborn, and their three- and six-year-old, as well as, Lowell, as she herself recuperated. Lowell’s aunt came for a few days to help, until she had all she could take, not being use to small children. Marjorie found God ordering her steps again when she wasn’t sure if she could change Lowell’s wound dressing. He was cut from his bellybutton to back bone and up his chest. She managed because she “did what she had to.” But was relieved when he healed.

When asked, “What was the hardest thing you did?”
Marjorie without hesitation described Lowell’s three heart attacks within eight to ten years. She drove to the hospital after working a full shift, and stayed beside him. He’d encourage her to “get home before it got too dark.” During those long hospital visits, when words weren’t there, and fears seemed strong, she found the words of Lamentations 3:21-25 comforting,

This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope.
The Lord’s loving kindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.
The Lord is my portion, says my soul. Therefore I have hope in Him.
The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him.
It is good that he waits silently for the salvation of the Lord.”

She sang Great is Thy Faithfulness constantly.
The words brought a balm for her fears, and strength for what she had to do.
Her steps were still ordered by the Lord. “But He knows the way I take; when He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold.
My foot has held fast to His path; I have kept His way and not turned aside.”

Lowell died, in 2006, after they had been married one-week short of 62 years.

In spite of all JoAnne’s careful attention to diabetic problems, she was put on kidney dialysis all night. She lost both her feet. When she died, seven months after Lowell, in 2007, Marjorie was in shock, but not really. She commented about her daughter’s jewelry. “You’re suppose to give your jewelry to your daughter, not get hers.” She says it with that matter-of-fact way she has about her, but the hurt is still there. Does it ever go away? She has found II Corinthians 5:5-8 to be a consolation for those who have died before her.

Marjorie speaks of her family with tenderness, happiness, and pride. Her daughter’s death after a life-time struggle with type 1 diabetes showed a testimony to Marjorie’s training and an example of God’s faithfulness. Marjorie enjoys her children, (now grown), her grandchildren (now grown) and her great grandchildren (still growing).

Although in the past when she worked she would read the Bible in the evening, now Marjorie reads first thing in the morning, then she can “worry about her breakfast.”  I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food. Job 23:12

Every Sunday, Marjorie is at church. “If I can get up the ramp at church, I’m going.”
God helps her do what He wants her to do. What His soul desires that He does. For He performs what is appointed for me. Job 23:14

She is 91.
Marjorie’s life exemplifies the verses:

But He knows the way I take; when He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold.
My foot has held fast to His path; I have kept His way and not turned aside.
I have not departed from the command of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food
Job 23:10-14

Marjorie life has shown the truth of Lamentations: Great is Your faithfulness.

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This is the most beautiful Love story I have ever read.

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