Wake-Up Call

April 27, 2012 | 30 comments

She sat across the table from me every week throughout our study on the Book of James. I spied on her, sneaking glances over the top of my workbook as she tilted her head and flipped through the Scriptures with carefree ease. It was  as if she could find Ezra as easily as Genesis. I noticied that she had one of those fancy new Bibles with QR-codes on the pages.

Plus, she’s got great hair. And a gorgeous smile. And I’m tempted to be a little jealous.

The Good Book says somewhere that Moses came down from the mountain with a shiny face, because he had been in the presence of God. Call me crazy, but I get the feeling that sort of thing still happens in 2012. If you took one look at this woman, you’d believe it, too. You can’t buy that at the Clinique counter.

She wears her love for Scripture on her face, and let me tell you: she lights up an Iowa country church’s fellowship-hall when she starts talking about the Lord.

I rested my chin on my hands and thought to myself: I want me some of that.

Someone read a passage from 1 Peter, and then, she put her hands flat down on her Bible, and gasped out loud, as if this was the first time she’d ever read such a beautiful thing in all her ever-lovin’ life.

Even though — and I’m not exaggerating here — it’s probably the 651st time she had read it.

“You don’t even want to know how many times I’ve read the Bible straight through,” she told me once. And I swear to you she’s not bragging on herself. She’s boasting on the Holy Spirit.

And besides, she’s been at this Bible-reading thing awhile.

Did I mention that this beauty queen is 91  years old?

Meet Almarie.

(She’s got that high-tech Bible because she’s worn out so many of her other Bibles.)

But her countenance changed when we began discussing a certain passage that tells us that without deeds, our faith is dead. Flatlined.  Lifeless. Pushing up daisies.

The sparkle in Almarie’s eyes faded. The corners of her mouth drooped a bit. What deeds could a 91-year-old lady in an assisted-living complex do?  We could tell she felt a bit frustrated, so we reached across the table with our words, assuring that she’d fought the  good fight and run the race for years.

But then, a few minutes later, Almarie told us about what happens at 3:30 a.m. Every. Single. Night.

The sparkle returned to her eyes as she spoke:

“The Lord wakes me up. Every night, He wakes me up. When I go to bed at night, I am so happy because I know He’s going to wake me up at 3:30.”

When God rings, Almarie answers. She gets out of bed, picks up her Bible, walks to her easy-chair and starts reading where she left off the night before. She reads, and she prays. For a whole hour.

“The Lord brings people’s names to mind as I’m reading,” she said. “I know when I’m done, after about an hour, because I feel such a peace come over me.” She shook her head, like she didn’t quite know how else to describe such a holy encounter.

“And then I go right back to bed, and I don’t wake up ’til morning.”

I sat there, gape-mouthed, at the glorious wonder of Almarie The Night Watchwoman. I flipped through Psalms to find a verse that so aptly fits this woman, whose deeds come in the form of obedience and prayer, uttered under darkest of skies.

I inked Almarie’s  name beside this verse in my Bible:

“My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promises.”

— Psalm 119:148  

(Thank you, Almarie, for letting me tell your story!)

by | April 27, 2012 | 30 comments


  1. Opal @ Celebrate Life

    She sounds like my grandmother, my dad’s mother, she too would awaken early each morning and read. As a child, I knew to expect her phone call around 5:00 am. It seems we both had that in common; we’re early risers. I’m usually awake by 4:00 am, no alarm is needed but God does awaken me. 🙂

    Even when in the nursing home, my grandmother knew her Bible, regardless of where you’d start reading, she’d be able to finish the verse for you.

    • dukeslee

      Hi Opal! What a wonderful memory to have. She’s left a beautiful legacy. I’m so glad you’ve shared it here in the comment box.

      My grandmother was more quiet about her faith, and I never thought to ask her many questions about it, while growing up. I wish I had. … She played the organ and piano at church, and I have one of her old hymnals here, which I often pray-sing from, during my personal prayer/quiet times.

  2. Denise

    What a marvelous thought to know that it is God wooing her awake!

    I wonder how many of us (me included) begin those early days with more mumbling than grace and miss the incredible gift of time with our Father.

    You have given us all the gift of seeing those “wake up calls” as more than an inconvenience and example of a life lived well.

    Thank you and God bless Almarie.

  3. Patricia (Pollywog Creek)

    I want to be like Almarie. I just added her name to my “cloud of witnesses”. Thank you so much, Jennifer, for telling her story so beautifully. xo

  4. Elizabeth

    I love this. I want to be like her.

  5. Dawn

    I want me some of that, too, Jennifer. Besides, one day, God-willing, it will be we who are the 91 year olds at the bible study.

    What an example, a great cloud of witnesses indeed.

  6. Lyla Lindquist

    I’ve heard tell that a person could drive past my friend Ernie’s farm house at 3:00 am and see the light on in the living room. He’d be up reading too.

    These elder saints of ours are powerhouses. I’m glad you have this one to sit across from.

    • dukeslee

      Almarie doesn’t attend our church, but she came to the study with a woman who works at her assisted-living center. Doesn’t that make you smile even more? She comes to another church, across the state border, to learn more about Jesus… I want to be like when I’m 91. In fact, I want me some of that RIGHT NOW.

  7. Brandee Shafer

    I love how you spied true beauty, here. It’s hard to miss the Jesus in certain people’s faces, isn’t it? I, too, find myself somewhat envious at times. I don’t know that I’ll ever wear Him like that. Maybe when I’m 91. But, for now, I’m entirely too angsty!

  8. Penni Hill

    A truly beautiful woman. Thank you for the inspiring post.

  9. r.ellott

    oh what a gift to have someone like this in your life…and oh how I want to finish strong…it must be something with age…My 87 yr. old dad gets up every night too…he is asleep about 8:30…wakes about 1…spends time with His love…than goes back to bed…somethings just come with age…I am realizing this more and more the older I get…great story…thanks…blessings and have a great weekend.

  10. Lisa notes

    What a beautiful saint. And what a beautiful way you shared her story, Jennifer. You both inspire me!

  11. Lynda

    What a wonderful post! Thank you for sharing Almarie, The Night Watchwoman’s story.

  12. nance davis

    very colourful, grace-filled, words. i love the story of her.

  13. Megan Willome

    On Wednesday night, we were talking about praying the Liturgy of the Hours, and how some monasteries wake up in the middle of the night to pray. They’ve got nothing on Almarie and her Holy Spirit-alarm clock.

  14. Jennifer@Adam's Rib

    Our nightwatchmen and women are so precious. I’ve only had God awaken me a couple times at night, lifting me out of a deep sleep with someone’s name specifically on my mind. It is precious, and just as precious when he wakes me out of my day-fog with a person’s name, too.

  15. Stephani

    What a blessing to read this and meet this dear lady through your writing. I think I might just read this to my mother. Now that Dad is living in memory care and she is by herself, she feels depressed, purposeless, and well I think a bit bored. I’m trying to help her to see her value. She too wakes up at about 3:30 every morning, but I don’t think it has dawned on her that it could be the Holy Spirit nudging her. Thanks for sharing this.

    • dukeslee

      Hi Stephani, I hope that your Mom can find value and purpose in her life. If God has her on this Earth, she’s here for a very specific reason! How blessed she is to have you in her corner…

  16. mynamestartswithO

    What a wonderful story! Thanks to Almarie and you too, for sharing it. I often wake up in the middle of the night and pray for whatever comes to mind. God bless Almarie! What a beautiful example to follow.

  17. Molly

    Beautiful. True beauty and strength.

  18. Diana Trautwein

    I cannot even tell you how much I love this story! Thank you so much for telling it. And give Almarie a big hug from all of us for her faithfulness and for being such a radiant reflection of the glory of God.

  19. Sharon O

    love the seniors and their wisdom.

  20. Marianne

    I think that people who live lives poured out and choose joy faithfully live longer. A joyful heart is good medicine? Have you ever noticed that? I want to be just like her. Wonderful inspiration. Thank you.

  21. Barbara

    Oh I want to be like your friend…
    I am so glad that there are so many places to grow in Him. This post made me want to love Him more and more and more and more. THanks!

  22. Diane Bailey

    Oh what a precious blog. We all need an Almarie! Her hands remind me of my grandmother’s hands. I know this sounds crazy but I want to have that sweet countenance along with those, worn soft hands.

  23. Gramma T

    How well written friend. And how well lived is her life. She gets the Live It! phrase that James embedded in my head. Some of my most precious memories or working there were my times in her apartment sharing Jesus stories. Working with old people is not a job it is truly a gift from God. So are you for sharing part of her story. Reminds me of my saintly sister Violet.

  24. Charity Singleton

    Oh Jennifer, what a beautiful tribute to a beautiful, humble woman. To be faithful like that after all those years – I would suspect Almarie might say the same thing about the Lord.

  25. Dolly

    Thank you for sharing Almarie’s story…where would we be without the prayers of faithful saints like her…Glorious tribute. Hope you’re having a blessed Sunday, dear Jennifer 🙂

  26. Ann Kroeker

    Our pastor’s dad, who is also a pastor, spoke at church this Sunday. He is an energetic, inspiring 81-year-old man. As he spoke about memorizing and believing Scripture, believing that God can transform us through His Word (especially that which is committed to memory), I sat there thinking, “I want to be like him.” So…guess what? I printed off all of the passages of Scripture I have attempted to memorize intending to review and begin to make it part of my daily routine.

    We need to pay attention to those who are ahead of us on this journey.


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