My father, Robert C. Smith of St. Petersburg, Florida, was a carpenter and builder. He built both of our homes for the family. My father added or our house, a spacious living room that provided for our family of six. It was the perfect size for a small group to gather. Our second home was blessed to become the site for one of Mrs. Ruth Hill Munce’s home Bible classes.
At some point in the early 1960’s, my mother, Beverly Smith, started attending a daytime Bible study group at a friend’s home. Ruth was the teacher. During the day, I was in school and only knew of my mother’s growing friendship with Ruth by listening to her stories. Eventually, Ruth was asking and praying for a location for a Tuesday night Bible study. My mother opened up our home for this group. Praise God!
My father started attending the Bible class, and he accepted Christ as his savior during these years. He studied with Ruth and grew a strong biblical foundation and relationship with the Lord Jesus.
On Tuesdays, I would come home from school in the afternoon, help with the family dinner, then set up the living room for the Bible class. I remember my mother always had brownies, pie, or another snack made to serve with coffee to the friends that attended.
In January of 1964, my 16-year-old brother died in a horrible car wreck caused by a drunk driver. Ruth was there to love my parents and comfort them during this terrible trial. I left that same year for college, and my relationship with Ruth vanished. My parents did not know that in just a few short years, my father would contract cancer and die at the age of 52. Ruth was still their personal friend and my mother’s support during three hard years of fighting cancer.
When Ruth died at 103, friends in St. Petersburg wrote my mother and sent us a copy of the article in the St. Petersburg Times Newspaper about her life. My mother always cherished her friendship with Ruth Munce. Ruth told us about her mother and her books. Ten years ago, I started reading Grace’s books on my Kindle. I became motivated to read every one of her books. I have read many but still need to finish reading them all, and the one’s Ruth wrote. Now in my retirement as an educator, instead of writing lesson plans, I am writing inspirational works. Not every story I write has a classic happy ending, but there is always spiritual growth and maturity accomplished by each main character, a Grace Livingston Hill trademark.
I praise God for the subtle yet continual spiritual influence on my life from both Ruth and her mother, Mrs. Grace Livingston Hill.