“They said she died–it seemed to me
That, after hours of pain and strife,
She SLEPT at evening peacefully,
And woke to EVERLASTING life.”
Nony Heywood was born August 21, 1868. She was the daughter of an Anglican Rector and his wife who lived at Oakridge in Gloucestershire County, England. She lived in the pretty parsonage there the first seven years of her life. She took great delight from infancy in flowers and nature and exhibited unusual intelligence and a remarkable memory as she learned the names of various things in God’s creation. When the child could speak, she could name the flowers and her thoughts seemed raised from nature to nature’s God. She would often say, “Pretty, pretty flowers! Good, kind God, to make the flowers. Baby does love God!”
At a young age, she seemed taught of the Holy Spirit of the Redemption plan. She would ask her dear mother for a story: “A story about dear Jesus. Baby likes to hear about Jesus best.” And so her mother would teach Nony and her brother Percy daily Bible lessons and pray with them. She also loved hymns about the Saviour. So, God gave her understanding early in life His Son suffered and died for her.
Before she was three, she suffered an acute attack of the croup and thanked God for the discomfort. Her prayer was: “Please Jesus, make Baby good and patient.” At the age of four, she would disappear from the nursery and remain in a back room for a while. Upon her mother’s inquiry about her time there, she said, “I often go there to talk to Jesus. I like to talk to Him all alone; and when I feel [I am] getting naughty, I run quickly and ask Him to make me good.” She always emerged with a bright and happy face.
After Nony went to the Better Land [heaven], her mother found she had written in some of her papers these words:
“I have an evil heart within,
A heart that’s always prone to sin;
What can a feeble infant do
Her naughty tempers to subdue?
“This will I do–when first I find
An evil thought within my mind,
I’ll go to Jesus, and I’ll say
Lord, take the naughty thought away.
“Does not the name of Jesus mean
One that has power to save from sin?
Lord, take my naughty heart away,
And give me a new heart, I pray.”
It was her earnest desire to have peace and happiness in the nursery with her brother Percy.
Nony caught the whooping cough and suffered much discomfort with the illness. She was patient and endured pain. Her dear mother asked her if she thought Jesus sent the pain and did she love Him still? The answer: “Of course, I do; dear Jesus, He only sends it because He loves me and wants me to do good.” The great and blessed truth “GOD IS LOVE” was so deeply rooted in her young heart by the Holy Spirit that whatever happened, she never doubted God’s love.
Before she was five years old, she collected pennies for mission work. She earned money by weeding a flower bed or hemming a handkerchief or picking blackberries for her mother. She often repeated a poem about missions:
THE MISSIONARY PENNY.
“Would you like to be told the best use of a penny?
I’ll tell you a use that is better than any;
Not on frollies, or trifles, or playthings to spend it
But over the seas for the heathen to send it.
Come, listen to me while I tell, if you please,
Of some poor little children far over the seas.”
While working for the heathen abroad, she was also mindful of the poor and sick children at home. She would go off with her nurse on errands of love, carrying a little basket of flowers or an orange or a little cake to share with those less fortunate. She prayed daily for a boy her father allowed to stay in his stable. “Please, God, do bless that poor boy without a home. Teach him to love Jesus, that he may go to heaven; and make him happy and comfortable in the stable.”
In the Spring of 1875, the Heywoods moved to Southwick after being called to a new parish. District Visitors were appointed and little Nony begged her Papa for some houses of her own and so he assigned several to her which she faithfully visited with her governess. She looked out for each family on Sunday, making sure they had prayer and hymn books and that they were present, no doubt having prayed for them. She took special interest in the children of each family and made articles of clothing for some. She taught a verse of text to some of the children on her visits.
Nony often saved money to buy New Testaments for giving away–her Bible was her greatest treasure and she was always ready to give God’s Holy Word to others.
For her eighth birthday, she was asked what she would like to do. . .she chose to invite all the poor children from the workhouse families to have tea on the lawn (about 40 in all!). It was a happy day for them. At the age of nine, her prayer was written on a piece of paper: “Teach me to do the thing that pleaseth Thee.”
Then, Nony had a terrible fall from twelve feet to the stone pavement of the hall. Her father and brother were away and her mother was confined to her room with illness at the time. This would commonly be called “an accident” but Christians know there are no accidents with God. Surely, if “not one sparrow falls to the ground without our Heavenly Father,” can we for one moment suppose that one of the chosen lambs of His flock could have had such a fall unless ordered by Him in infinite wisdom and love? God never makes mistakes and faith can firmly trust Him come what may.
The child was not killed on the spot and no bones were broken. She had a head injury but still was able to visit the children at the Hospital for Incurables her ninth birthday and sing to them of Jesus. Then she began to have pain in her right thigh. High fever followed with more pain. Intense pain. She asked for patience to endure it. The following months were spent on a couch of weakness and suffering. Even in this difficult time, her thoughts were for others and she kept little texts and small books on a table near her couch to give to those who visited the Rectory. She never gave a tract or a text or a Bible without first a prayer for God’s blessing upon it.
The good seed scattered was watered by prayer and no doubt many will have cause to thank God for this little child’s work of faith and labor of love.
The child endured two operations for the hip disease and other injuries that developed after the fall. She had to stay in one position to be able to endure the pain. She received a couch for outdoors on strong wheels to be able to go outside and enjoy the fresh air and the shade of the elms. She could also watch the other children at play. But she never complained.
In her room was placed the text “GOD IS LOVE” and “FEAR NOT” along with flowers beaming the love of the One Who made them. She was a striking witness of“My grace is sufficient for thee.” God never gives a lesson without giving the strength and grace to endure it. Surely, only Divine Grace could have enabled a little child to lie still when so full of life and not murmer or complain. Instead she would sing and give glory to God.
As the time approached for her departure, she said her goodbyes with small gifts to those she loved and lived with and always used her favorite text, “GOD IS LOVE”. Nony gave her small white dog Muffin to Percy, her brother. And her canaries. She also gave him her Bible after extracting the promise he should “never, never read it without first asking the Holy Spirit to teach him.” She made her mother promise to continue praying for all that she had been praying for and said she could not bear to leave her on earth except that she was going to be with Him in heaven.
From that time on, her hands were clasped in prayer. Faint whispers came. When she could no longer sing audibly, she would sing in her heart. “Oh, for the robes of whiteness.” Finally she was worn out from lack of sleep and pain. “O God! I am so tired, please do put me to sleep.” The Good Shepherd quickly answered the prayer of His little suffering lamb, and tenderly folding her in His Own loving arms, little Nony fell asleep.
“Oh, change! oh wondrous change!
Burst are the prison bars;–
One moment there so low,
So agonised, and now
Beyond the stars!
“Oh change!–stupendous change!
There lies the soulless clod;
The sun eternal breaks–
The new immortal wakes–
WAKES UP WITH God!”
From MEMORIALS OF LITTLE NONY By Her Mother. Frances Ridley Havergal knew and loved Nony Heywood and her family and most likely encouraged her mother to record the life and love for the Lord Jesus Christ of her child for publication.