2006 at 2:34 pm | by Nicole Whitacre
A year and a half ago, we wrote “Carolyn’s Story,” the sequel to “Margaret’s Story.” You see, in her first book, Feminine Appeal, Mom told the story of her mom’s life in “Margaret’s Story.” We planned to surprise her and include “Carolyn’s Story” in our book, Girl Talk. However, a few days before the book was to go to press, Mom discovered our plan (you can’t keep anything from a mom, can you?!). Reluctantly, we yielded to her pleas to remove a tribute to her from a book with her name on it. But we’ve been saving it. And today—Mom’s birthday—seems like a good day for you and her to read it. So, without further ado, (and before Mom figures out what we’re up to!) the girltalk blog presents “Carolyn’s Story.”
(Mom, we know this makes you very uncomfortable. You’ve never sought the spotlight—in fact you run from it as fast as you can! But in keeping with the biblical tradition of Proverbs 31 we want to rise up and call you blessed. We want to sing your praises, that God may be glorified and many mothers and daughters inspired to follow in your footsteps.)
You may know our mom as an author, teacher of women, or pastor’s wife. However, she would prefer to be known simply as a wife and mother. Our mother.
After all, this is the ministry she always wanted.
As a little girl with white-blond braids, growing up on the beaches of Sarasota, Florida, she dreamed of being a wife and mother like her mom. Not everybody understood or approved of her dream. Mom was an honor-roll student in high school when she shocked her teacher by boldly declaring—at the height of the feminist movement—that her career ambitions were to be a wife, mother, and homemaker.
It was not long after high school that Mom met an enthusiastic preacher from Maryland named C.J. Mahaney. Dad was smitten the moment he saw her, and within a few months he asked her to marry him. They became man and wife on May 17, 1975. He was 21, and she was 19 years old. A thousand miles away from family and friends, Mom made their little apartment into a home with not much more than a card table, folding chairs, and a beanbag.
To tell Mom’s story you have to start with Dad, for Mom was a wife first—and she has guarded this role as her highest priority. We have never felt loved any less because she loves Dad most. Her fierce commitment to Dad formed the safe cocoon in which we played out our happy childhood. And perhaps the greatest legacy she’s given us, her daughters, is her model of a loving, respectful, submissive, and uncommonly helpful wife.
It wasn’t long before the wife became a mother, too. Nicole was born five days before their first anniversary, Kristin arrived one year later, and Janelle burst into the world four years after that. Then Chad surprised Dad and Mom twelve years after they thought that their family was complete.
As her family grew, Mom’s desire to follow in the footsteps of her own mother also matured into a compelling biblical conviction. Through her study of the Bible’s portrayal of the godly woman, she became resolutely convinced of the significance of her ministry to her family. Unmoved by the prevailing worldview that insisted she was wasting her time and talent, uninterested in selfish pursuits, and unaided by the encouragement and guidance of an older woman nearby, she set the course of her life by the compass of God’s Word.
Her biblical conviction invigorated her mothering efforts. Our mom is no half-hearted mom. She brought all the fortitude, resourcefulness, and commitment to excellence that she had learned from her parents and threw it into her mothering task. She elevated marriage, mothering, and homemaking to an art form—much as God intended it to be.
Mom doesn’t consider herself a particularly creative mother, but she made up for her lack with an energetic hunt for inspired ideas. Our growing up years were full of unforgettable memories like weekly family nights, “Family Olympics,” “Mystery Night,” “Fall Special Treat Night,” “Spring Celebration,” birthday meals complete with a personalized menu and a special plate, “Afternoon Out,” and of course, “The Shopping Trip.”
Not only was Mom’s ministry to her family the focus of all her passion and energy—it was also a ministry of sacrifice. This ministry was twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, with no breaks, holidays, or even sick leave. It involved mundane tasks such as changing dirty diapers, cleaning up spilled Cheerios, washing mountains of laundry, and reading Uncle Arthur’s Bedtime Stories over and over again.
It was a sacrifice of much-needed sleep, of personal friendships, leisure time, and other ministry pursuits. Mom gave up all her own desires in order to pour out her life for her primary ministry: her husband and her children.
She wore the uniform of a young mother—inevitably stained five minutes after she put it on. And her sacrifice was almost entirely in secret, out of the public eye, or anyone’s notice, really—except for Dad’s. Many evenings she gladly supported him as he was out serving the church, while she stayed home to wash the dinner dishes and put us to bed. But she was right where she wanted to be. She was with us.
Never mind that Nicole was probably throwing a temper tantrum, Kristin was most likely whining, and Janelle was certainly into mischief. She was happy just to tell her little girls how Jesus came to die for sinners like us, and how there is forgiveness and hope in His cross. For the gospel was, and is, her source and the reason for her ministry.
The gospel is also the explanation for why all of Mom’s effort and sacrifice were bathed in joy. In fact, many of her sacrifices slipped by our notice, disguised as they were in joy. She was—and is—a happy mom.
And as we three girls headed into the teenage years we never once doubted that Mom would be a constant, faithful friend. For her ministry of joyful sacrifice grew, along with us, into a ministry of friendship.
The hours she invested into creativity when we were small were no match for the hours she devoted to instructing, encouraging, and caring for us as young women. Mom was our greatest ally in our battle against sin and our biggest cheerleader for our growth in godliness. She was the first to bring encouragement and point out change. She faithfully watered and tended the gospel seed that God had planted in our souls.
And Mom loved to be with us. She was always eager to hang out with us. She laughed—really laughed—at our jokes. She cried with us when we went through trials. She attentively listened for hours and hours as we poured out our thoughts and feelings. We were the ministry that she had always wanted, and all these years later we were still the ministry she loved. We could tell.
This faithful mothering won the hearts of her daughters. There was no one that we enjoyed being with more, and no one whose friendship meant more. Mom was the Matron of Honor at all three of our weddings—not out of a sense of duty, but because she was our best friend.
Like Mom, we three girls are now wives and mothers. And our friendship with Mom is stronger than ever. What may have seemed at first like the closing of one season has actually been the opening of another.
For we’ve entered our own years of changing dirty diapers, cleaning up spilled Cheerios, washing endless mounds of laundry, and reading bedtime stories over and over again. And through it all, Mom is not only our friend, and encourager, but her life is our model and our guide.
Today we stand on the shoulders of her biblical convictions. We recall her passionate efforts and so we strive for excellence as wives and mothers. We remember her joyful sacrifice on our behalf, and so we are compelled to lay down our lives for our husbands and children. Mom’s ministry to our family is the ministry she always wanted—and now it’s the ministry we want too. And the fruit of her faithful ministry is our aspiration and our goal.
Mom, today, that fruit is plain for all to see. Your four children are whole-heartedly following the Lord. Each of us loves this family dearly and we all love to be together. Your son Chad, though only thirteen, wants to grow up to be a godly man like his father. Your three sons-in-law can’t stop telling you how grateful they are for your example and influence. And your five grandchildren—Andrew, Liam, Jack, Owen, and Caly—love their Mom-Mom with all their hearts.
God has taken your little ministry to our family and multiplied it far beyond anything you ever imagined. He has used your conviction and passion to spark a similar passion in the hearts of thousands of other women—women who have now chosen to make their husbands, children, and homes the most important ministry of their lives. Your ministry is still one of sacrifice, each and every day. And while it may not be in secret any more, its full extent remains to be seen. But one day, you will see the vast effect of your ministry.
On that day, when we stand before the throne of our heavenly Father, your family—the ministry closest to your heart—will surround you: Dad, us three girls with our husbands, Chad, your grandsons, and granddaughter. And Lord willing, we will be joined by great grandchildren and great-great grandchildren, all the fruit of the ministry to which you dedicated your life.
And when we hear those words, “Well done, good and faithful servant” pronounced over your life, we will cheer—loudly, being the exuberant family that we are. None will be louder than Dad, we are sure. We will give glory and honor and praise to God for His lavish grace in sustaining you to be faithful to the calling you received.
However, we won’t be alone. There will be children you have never met whose mothers were inspired by your example. There will be husbands whose wives were affected by your teaching. And they will join us in thanking God for your life and testimony. Because their mothers and their wives, inspired by you, devoted themselves to making their family the ministry dearest to their heart.
But none will be so happy as us. For we were the ministry you always wanted, the ministry for which you sacrificed with great joy and in secret. We were the girls who basked in the glow of your friendship. And so the three of us stand together and say, today, as we will on that great day: “Many women have done excellently, but you, Mom, you surpass them all!”
We love you,
Nicole, Kristin, and Janelle
2006 at 11:44 am | by Kristin Chesemore
We want to thank each and every one of you for the tributes you sent in to honor your mothers last week. It was painful for us not to be able to post all the tributes we received, but we took comfort from the fact that you were able to honor your mom yesterday. We hope all you mothers felt our respect and the pleasure of the Lord.
But there is a certain group of mothers whom I’ve been thinking about the past few weeks. They are the single moms. And my mother-in-law is one of them. Kaye Chesemore was also a mother of three active little boys like me. When she became a single mom, she had to take on a brand new job, and pursue her master’s degree at the same time. Although circumstances required her to work outside the home, she never sacrificed her care for her boys.
They each played sports and she found a way to attend all their games. She once told me that she took her textbooks everywhere in order to fit in her homework. All three boys took music lessons, had special birthday parties, and went to Pizza Hut with Mom every Friday night. They knew that she was always available to talk to them at any time.
Her sacrifice was great and her labor was constant. Many times it went unnoticed, but it has borne much fruit. Today her three sons have grown up to become godly men. All three have wives and sons of their own and all are serving the Lord. I have her to thank for my husband, and I am eternally grateful for what she has given to me.
So I want to thank and encourage all the single moms who sacrifice for your children like my mother-in-law did. It may be that your Mother’s Day wasn’t very restful because there was no one to make dinner or do the dishes for you. You might feel exhausted and helpless and alone. However, your labor does not go unnoticed by the Savior. He is your help and your strength, and He will surely bless your efforts to raise your children to glorify Him.
And may I encourage all of us to remember the single moms and their children? Maybe this week, take a moment to write a kind note to a single mom in your church, or make a meal for the single mom in your neighborhood, or begin to pray consistently for a single mom you know. These women are heroic servants, and we in the church should help carry their burdens.
We will celebrate Mother’s Day with Kaye (“Mimi” to my boys) this evening. What a joy it will be to thank her once again for the blessings I’ve received as a result of her faithful mothering. I pray that all you single moms will be encouraged this day!
“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9
2006 at 9:00 pm | by Carolyn Mahaney
We want to close out our week of “tributes to mothers” with a tribute to our Savior, as expressed through the words of this song:
“I Will Glory in My Redeemer”
I will glory in my Redeemer,
whose priceless blood has ransomed me.
Mine was the sin that drove the bitter nails,
and hung him on that judgment tree.
I will glory in my Redeemer,
who crushed the power of sin and death.
My only Savior before the holy Judge:
The Lamb who is my righteousness,
The Lamb who is my righteousness.
I will glory in my Redeemer.
My life he bought, my love he owns.
I have no longings for another,
I’m satisfied in him alone.
I will glory in my Redeemer,
His faithfulness, my standing place.
Though foes are mighty and rush upone me,
My feet are firm, held by his grace,
My feet are firm, held by his grace.
I will glory in my Redeemer,
Who carries me on eagle’s wings.
He crowns my life with lovingkindness,
His triumph song I’ll ever sing.
I will glory in my Redeemer,
Who waits for me at gates of gold,
And when he calls me, it will be paradise,
His face forever to behold,
His face forever to behold.
HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY TO YOU!
From the moms here at girltalk,
Carolyn, Nicole, Kristin, and Janelle
(“I Will Glory in My Redeemer,” © 2001 Sovereign Grace Worship (ASCAP). Sovereign Grace Music, a division of Sovereign Grace Ministries. All rights reserved. International copyright secured. North American administration by Integrity Music. International administration by Copy Care International. Used by permission.)
2006 at 4:16 pm | by Carolyn Mahaney
I want to honor my mother, Kathy Bowers, for teaching me the most important thing in life, that Christ has taken care of my greatest need by dying on the Cross for my sins, and that is what truly matters. You see, my mom has only weeks left to live. She has been heroically battling cancer for the past 7 years and unless the Lord chooses to heal her, she will soon be home with Him. My mom’s life beautifully portrays a deep trust in the truth of the Gospel in ALL areas of her life. As she faces death, she has not even a hint of fear. She knows she is going to be with the Lord, and when she talks about it, she does so with a huge smile and great excitement. Mom has suffered severely this past year, often in intense pain, yet has never once complained. She tells others often that she deserves God’s wrath and anything else is pure grace! She is a perfect example of joy in the midst of suffering. She trusts God completely—he is her solid rock that she stands on in trying times and because of that she has a steady faith that does not waver with the changing circumstances.
Mom lives with the truth of the Gospel in full view every day. There have been times when she has been in the emergency room in extreme pain and she has shared the Gospel with the nurse caring for her. She recently had a party held in her honor at which she spent twenty minutes sharing with her 200 guests that she has no fear in the face of death, that she is going to the place she was created for and it is because she has put her trust in the Gospel. She then shared the Gospel with all who were there. Mom has been sharing the Gospel with unbelievers her whole life—from women in her neighborhood, to orphans in Mexico.
Mom has lived the 50 years of her life on this earth serving heroically and focusing on others. She has impacted hundreds through her example, but I believe my family has been the most blessed by her. She has faithfully loved her husband and three children. She has faithfully served us. She has laid down her life for us and made us her priority. She has set an amazing example for my sister and me to follow as a wife and mother.
Mom has also faithfully discipled my sister and me. She has set an example for us of a women deeply in love with the Lord and His Word. She always told us being in the Lord’s Word was her favorite part of the day. Even now, when at times she is so fatigued that she cannot read, she asks others to read to her. She has faithfully met with my sister and me week in and week out, caring for our hearts and teaching us to be godly women. She has always made herself available to talk to us, dropping whatever she is doing. Even now that she is sick, she makes a point to still ask about our day and our devotions. Without hesitation all three of her children would call her both their Hero and their best friend.
As Mom’s life on this earth is coming to an end, it is evident to all that this woman ran the race hard and has glorified the Lord with her life. She is leaving behind a legacy of faith that will be legendary and inspire many. She has taught us how to rejoice in suffering and to live in light of eternity. She has taught us that placing our trust in the Gospel is truly what matters and that we should yearn to be with the Lord in Heaven.
Mom, I love you so much. Thank you for the godly woman you are. I will deeply miss you when you go home to be with the Lord, but praise Him that we never have to say goodbye. A crown of righteousness is awaiting you!
2006 at 1:23 pm | by Carolyn Mahaney
Thank you for your truly excellent example of a Titus 2 woman. You have shown me examples of godly womanhood as a single parent, a married woman - in extremely difficult circumstances, and now, I am delighted to say as a betrothed woman. You have always demonstrated such faith, joy and love to me. Recently you bought me a fridge magnet that said "daughters are just little girls that grow up to be your best friend" and how this is true!
A few things come to mind - the Sunday afternoons when I was little and we would bake together - what precious times of fun and laughter, dancing around the kitchen with frying pans! Then when I left home you presented me with my very own folder full of handwritten recipes that we had cooked together. My husband now benefits from those, and is grateful!
Other memories I have are when I was involved in evening activities either at Church, Guides or Sea Cadets, and despite a busy job and home life you would drive me around, often touring the local villages to collect my friends. Thank you - I now fully understand how much effort it is to engage in evening commitments when you are working full time.
You recently moved to live near to me, and have given up a very well paid career as an acountant to work with disadvantaged and homeless people in Bedford (UK). The level of love, patience and kindness that you show them surpasses what many people show their own family, and how you relish the opportunity to share the gospel with them.
We were not a rich family in monetary terms, and we had some very difficult times at home, but I always felt rich in love and faith through your sacrifices and efforts that you displayed daily to me, and that I now try to emulate. Thank you for your example. I love you Mum.
2006 at 10:38 am | by Carolyn Mahaney
She raised my husband from the time he was just a couple of weeks old. Unable to bear children, she took him into a loving Christian home.
She wept with me and prayed fervently for me when we were told we would not be able to have our own children. She rejoiced with me when we became pregnant, praising God for miracles.
She prayed for my husband and led him to the Lord when he was only a young boy.
She prays for my daughter that she too will come to know Christ as her own.
She was a loving wife for decades. Faithful and devoted, an example to me of what a Christian wife is.
I wept with her when he passed away and rejoiced with her for the many memories and years they shared. Her faithfulness in all things as a wife is a trait I want to emulate.
She opens her home and displays gifts of hospitality.
She encouraged me as I took on hosting a holiday for the family and shares her knowledge with me, so I may flourish with my gifting in this area.
She does more for others with a heart of joy than any other woman I know.
She spurs me on to do the same by her example.
She raised her two children, was a wife, served the church, and was called to be a nurse.
She continues to work to provide her children’s family with little extras as they start out. Blessing us in the years that are “hers.”
She let her son go.
She gained a loving daughter-in-law and friend and student.
2006 at 6:31 pm | by Nicole Whitacre
As I (Mandy) am sitting here thinking about my mom, my mind is flooded with so much that I could say about her. If I had to choose just one word that would best describe her, it would be JOY. My mom is a Proverbs 31 woman on every account, but when I think about her in relation to this Proverb, verse 25 comes first to my mind, “…she can laugh at the days to come.” You see, my mom is a woman of grace—her anchor, her rock, her trust, her foundation is the Lord; and her relationship with Jesus and her love for our Savior is where her joy springs from.
Three words that I (Emily) can think of to best sum up my mom’s character would be faithfulness, devotion and joy. Growing up, it was a daily routine to observe my mom rising early before the rest of the family, spending her first moments with her Bible and a daily dose of Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening. Some of my most cherished memories are of time spent early in the morning, snuggling close to my mom as she finished out her devotions with prayer, thanking God and laying her requests before Him. As years went by, it became apparent that Mom’s devotion to spending time with her Lord and Savior each morning and communing with Him truly was the foundation and strength of her life—in good times and in bad.
(Mandy) About 5 years ago, our father became ill with a serious blood disorder. The disease moved him, my mom, and my three youngest siblings out of the state and away from friends, family and their local church, while I and my oldest brother stayed at home. After about 6 months, my father passed away and went to be with the Lord. During the end of my dad’s life, as my family and I spent several difficult weeks in the hospital with him, my mom showed me what it truly meant to love and be committed to and faithful to one man. Now as a newly married woman, I am so thankful for the grace the Lord gave to my mom to love and care for my father through their entire marriage but mostly through the hardest part of her marriage—saying good bye to her husband for the final time. I am so grateful that when she could have given up, and walked away and said this is too hard, she instead obeyed the Lord, and stayed by my dad’s side and served him and loved him when he needed her most and showed me that it is possible to love and care for and be faithful to my own marriage vows and to the one man that the Lord has graciously given me—until the day when I might have to say my final good bye to him.
(Emily) I’ll never forget Mom’s response to my many questions of “why?!”—“We have to trust God,” she said. “Don’t ask why, and don’t try to figure it out, trust God. He is sovereign and He is good.” In the following weeks and months, the pain was intense. We all took turns crying and holding each other, struggling to find a new “normal” as a family. Throughout this time, my mom drew nearer and nearer to God; she had moments of despair, of not wanting to wake up in the morning, not wanting to move on with life and accept the changes that God had brought, but still each morning she devoted her day to the Lord. She drew her strength from God’s Word and each day discovered the hope in God’s eternal promises to carry on.
(Mandy) In the days following my father’s death, I watched my mom experience sorrow, and loneliness in a way that I think can only truly be understood if experienced; yet at the same time, I also watched her draw nearer to the Lord and find her complete dependence and strength and, yes, even again, new joy in the Lord more so than ever before in my life. Since then, my mom’s anchor in the Lord has only deepened and I’ve seen her grow in greater love with Jesus and consider Him the most precious treasure in her life. I’ve seen her step-out in faith and obey the Lord doing things that’d she never on her own choose to do, yet once done for the Lord, I’ve seen her experience God’s joy and favor.
(Emily) As the years have passed, bringing graduations, weddings, a grandchild and more changes, Mom’s joy increased. It has become evident to all, that her joy is in the Savior, not her circumstances, and she has chosen to acknowledge His sovereignty on her life. With open arms, she has embraced the new life and responsibilities that God set before her, all the while growing in strength and wisdom from her times with the Lord. Today, Mom exemplifies what it means to be a woman of God. God has graciously provided a job that she can do from home, so she is faithfully home schooling my little brothers and has created a warm, inviting and hospitable home. She serves in her local church and is a wise friend and encourager. She delights in her family and she overflows with joy and peace. Looking back over the years, seeing all that God has done and brought into our lives, the various circumstances, the blessings and the heartaches, the numerous changes that we never saw coming, I see my Mom, in her quiet and humble strength, proclaiming that God is faithful, that God is unchanging, and that God is good. I cannot thank God enough for her example, for giving her to me as my Mom.
(Mandy) If you were to talk to my mom now, you would hear her say in word and in action that God is good and faithful! My mom would tell you that there is much hope in the Lord and in trusting your life to Him even through the hardest of seasons. She would tell you that even though the Lord’s ways may not be understood they are trustworthy. And she would tell you that there is nothing better than knowing Jesus as your Lord, Savior and Faithful God. She would tell you that the only true source of joy in all of life springs from knowing the One who created joy for us to experience, the One who gives us abundant joy here on the earth and the One who is Joy Himself. My mom, “laughs at the days to come.”
Mandy Reel and
2006 at 3:40 pm | by Nicole Whitacre
Thinking about my mom brings tears to my eyes. It’s funny how the older I get the more appreciative I am of my mom and sometimes I wish I could really spend more time with her. As I’m writing this, she’s halfway across the world, sleeping, and I hope she would feel that love of this tribute.
We grew up in a poor family and my mom was a housewife as she did not have the level of education needed to have a good-paying job. However, she does the odd job here and there, like cutting and washing hair while us kids play around in the background. Although we don’t have much, we were happy.
I remember the times when we don’t have much and buying grapes was a luxury. She would give it all to us kids only pinching a few for herself. Although she would have to divide those grapes by weighing them so we kids would not fight over who’s got the bigger bunch. Or just letting us kids have our fill of a meal first before she has hers.
She may not have a lot of education but she knows the importance of having a good education. She would sit with us kids every night after dinner to make sure that we have completed our homework and that we read up on what the teacher was going to teach on the next day so that we understand better in class. She helps out in whatever areas that she can, for example in arts and living skills subjects.
Her faithfulness to the family is beyond words. When I was 16, my school shifted to a new building that was very isolated and the only way to get there was by private transportation. My mom will rise up early every morning just to make sure I have my breakfast and take me to school, which starts at 730am. We did not have a car and only a scooter. Even though her health deteriorated slightly due to the morning chill five days a week for a whole year and pain in her wrists due to the motion of the scooter, she never complained. All she thought about was my future.
If I were to write done each and every sacrifice that my mom made for me, it would take a long, long time. These were just a few from the top of my head. My mom does not know God personally as her Saviour yet, but she is a big reason I am who I am today. I could never thank God enough for her as my mom. I pray that one day she will accept Christ as her Lord.
2006 at 11:43 am | by Nicole Whitacre
This year, I don’t honor my mother for how she has served those who come behind her; I honor her for serving those who have gone before her. My mother’s world changed dramatically last year. In one year, my parents flew back and forth to Las Vegas and New Orleans many times to attend to ill parents. In April of 2005, my mother’s mom died and just three days later my father’s dad died. Just four months later, the flood in New Orleans resulted in my parents taking in my grandmother Cannon as well as my severely mentally handicapped Aunt. My mother was to be the primary caregiver for both. Yet in a whirlwind of airplanes, memorial services, floods, and hospitals my mother stayed the course of humble servant-hood.
The day before my grandmother arrived I remember my mother looking shocked and numb. We were packing away her dining room in order to make room for two beds and a dresser. The table where we had so many Sunday dinners was disassembled. The beloved Turkey dishes for thanksgiving were put away. Every piece of silver and crystal wrapped in paper and put in the garage. My mom would tell you that she mourned the loss of part of her life that day.
My mother was weak, but this positioned her to receive power like I have never seen demonstrated in her life. My mom fed, clothed, bathed, and cared for my 54 year old aunt with the tenderness she had for her own babies. This was amazing to behold. To compare the fear and anxiety of the day before Aunt Cathy arrived to the grace that caused my mother to truly view it as a privilege to serve this way has affected more profoundly than my mother’s example in any other area. My mother says over and over that God did this. She takes no credit, and stands amazed at the grace in her life. Part of the means of that grace was her unwavering commitment to study God’s Word and pray, something my mother has faithfully modeled in every season of her life since her conversion.
Sadly, my aunt died just months later after succumbing to a battle with pneumonia. My grandmother moved back to New Orleans recently, but has decided she will eventually live in Maryland. Even as I type my mother sits in a hospital room in New Orleans caring for my grandmother as she recovers from back surgery. My mom doesn’t know how long she will be in New Orleans, but once again God is giving her power and strength to serve her mother-in-law.
My sister and I have always called my mother a steel magnolia. She is from the south, and her favorite tree is the magnolia tree. Magnolias are sprinkled throughout her house as a reminder of her southern heritage. They are reminders to me of my mother. In the midst of intense heat, she stays strong like a magnolia. The source of her strength is not the bloom itself, but the roots of faith that dig deep to reach the streams of living water that are her source of life.
I miss you mom. Thank you for your faithful example of humble servant-hood, perseverance, and pursuit of the means of grace. Truly words will always fall short for how much I love and respect you.
The Magnolia Tree
For my mom on Mother’s Day
The Magnolia tree in New Orleans
Lifted up her limbs
Toward the heat of summer sun
Drinking daylight in.
Never do the steel blooms wither
Never do they fade
Even through the fearful flood
Her blossoms show their grace.
Her source of beauty does not lie
Within her hearty flower
But the root that reaches
For deep waters is her power
So whether the day brings blessed rain
Or blazing summer heat
The steel magnolia thrives and drinks
From a Fountain hid beneath.
Such glory does the tree display
In blossom laden bower
Passersby can’t help admire
Strength with Beauty’s power.
2006 at 8:07 am | by Nicole Whitacre
only fear in writing this is that I somehow may not be able to convey
the impact that my mother has had on my life. I’m the girl I am today
because of my mom’s faithfulness to train and correct me in the ways of
the Lord. As I reflect where I could have been apart from her
diligence, I’m amazed by her love for me and awed by God’s grace that
He has poured out and continues to pour out on our relationship as
mother and daughter.
When I entered teen-hood several years ago, my eyes were opened to
the wisdom that God had placed in my mother for my life. Over time our
relationship took on a transformation that I will cherish for a life
time. My mom became my best friend. And even now as I write this I’m
brought to tears remembering all the times when she encouraged,
corrected, talked, listened, gave godly wisdom, laughed, or just simply
hugged and cried with me! It would take forever to recount the specific
instances where I know she said or did something that significantly
changed my life, but I can say her example is one of the greatest gifts
I will ever receive. She is the wife, mother, and homemaker that I
desire to emulate. She is efficient and portrays love while doing the
tasks God has set before her and one of the biggest strengths that I
see is the way she always seeks to do what will most serve her husband
(she excels at being selfless)! She is a quiet servant both in and out
of her home. She does not seek to be praised. And just as she has
affected my life, I have seen the ways she has given to others and
affected their lives as well. She seeks the Lord with all of her heart,
and I have gotten to see first hand how she relies only on the strength
of her Savior in the recent diagnosis of her breast cancer! I both
deeply respect and love my mom!
"Her children rise up and bless her; Her husband also." Proverbs 31:28
2006 at 7:09 pm | by Janelle Bradshaw
My Mom, A Woman of Notable Beauty
My counselor, teacher, biggest fan and best friend;
We posses a friendship that no conflict can bend;
She holds a high-ranking place at the true beauty prom.
Who is this person? You guessed it, my mom.
I have been struggling with the sin of not feeling smart,
But my mom advised me to look into my heart.
Time after time, she has helped me to see
That God has made me fearfully and wonderfully.
And that joy in God for how He made me is worth the fight
For a gentle, quiet spirit is great in God’s sight.
A few weeks ago my mom took me away overnight.
We had a great time and it blessed me to see,
How my mom really enjoyed being with me.
Together we fellowshipped about my devotions;
This set my mom’s excitement all to motion.
She was excited about my relationship with Him;
This encouraged me to pursue it again and again.
My mom also rarely ever raises her voice,
But she graciously helps me make the right choice.
She helps me shun the world and not be proud
But to stand for righteousness in a crowd.
Mom, because of my godly relationship with you,
I am learning to develop the beauty that is true.
And together I know we can continue this way
By relying on redeeming grace everyday.
2006 at 3:54 pm | by Janelle Bradshaw
My mom is not only a great mom; she is the best mom ever! I would never trade her for anything. She is constantly willing to change in any way that would help our relationship. She always makes it easy for me to talk to her about boys, struggles, or anything. She never makes me feel bad about thinking or telling her about guys. She never makes me feel scared to tell her stuff, or confess anything that I might have done wrong. She always says “you can always come to me about anything.”
Although we might have a very different view on style or modesty, she continually brings me back to the Lord. Just this morning she surprised me and took me out for breakfast! (I love those little surprises very much.) She printed out all of the paragraphs on modesty from girltalk and brought them with us to breakfast. We looked over them and laughed about mistakes we’ve done in the past and didn’t even realize it.
But the very best thing my mom has ever done for me is adopt me into this great family. By God’s grace I was adopted into a family that knew Jesus died on the cross for our sins. I always wonder what would have happened if my mom (and dad) hadn’t adopted me. I wouldn’t be able to praise my mom in this paragraph and I wouldn’t know God the way I do today.
My mom is always looking for a way to be a better mom to me and my two older brothers. This shows me that kids aren’t the only ones who have to ask for forgiveness all the time. My mom shows a wonderful example by always being willing to change and to grow as a godly woman and it makes me want to be just like her! I want to be the same example for my children that my mom has been for me.
My greatest memory of her is when I keep her in my room just talking about our day, or how I am walking with the Lord. Even now, she often spends hours of the night with me, talking. The fact that she homeschools us is incredible. With my older brother, Gabe, going to college next year it shows that she has been successful through one of her kids. Once she said, “one down, two to go.” Hopefully Joe and I will make it to college too! With my mom and God’s help, we can do anything.
The final best thing about my mom is that we will sometimes have “fights” about who loves one another the most. So all I can say is that it doesn’t matter if I win this contest. What really matters is that I love my mom before anything. Wow, I really love my mom. Happy Mother’s Day, Mommy
Amanda, Age 12
2006 at 11:45 am | by Janelle Bradshaw
My mom, Warreen Iozzia, is 88 years old and lives with our family. She is wheel-chair bound from years of falls, broken bones and severe osteoporosis and widowed since the loss of my father, her husband of 59 ½ years when he passed away in 2002. She is by all accounts a remarkably ordinary woman, and one, I believe, worthy of honor.
She was the youngest of 8 girls, born to a farming family in Georgia just prior to the Great Depression. As with most during that era she grew up with a love for God and a solid work ethic, and though she was born with a condition that pre-disposed her to brittle bones from an early age, she kept busy with farm life and was expected to do her share of the chores. She contracted scarlet fever at a young age which left her deaf, and as an adult, began wearing a hearing aid. She moved to Washington D.C. prior to WWII for work, and met my father, a U.S. Marine, fell in love and married, only to see him immediately shipped off to war in the South Pacific. They spent most of the first 4 years of their marriage apart.
Once they set up a home together, they discovered, after 15 years of marriage, that her fragile body couldn’t bear nor carry a child and so, they began to pursue adoption to fulfill their desire to begin a family. Through the recommendation of a nurse and close friend and a series of sovereignly ordained events, I came into their lives as a newborn in need of a home. I became their one and only child.
Though my mom had physical limitations, she provided the most wonderful experience a child could grow up in. A stay at home mom, she introduced me to a love for learning and the arts. Books were read to me constantly and music was always played in our home. Creativity was encouraged and game time was commonplace. Though she was never able to drive and therefore, take me places, she created a world at home that was magical. Through the years, all of my friends loved to spend time at my house.
As mom has aged and her physical limitations only increased, without a doubt, her joy and love for others has more than kept pace. She has lived through the death of her husband and most of her older sisters and yet, she remains steadfast in a loving God who has cared for her. She is the most grateful person I know. Even though she relies on others for almost every basic daily need, she never ceases to say, "Thank you’" for the smallest kindness shown.
She is my hero and deserves her crown awaiting her in heaven one day.
2006 at 8:20 am | by Janelle Bradshaw
My mom is a great mom because she’s a very kind and loving person. She is constantly teaching me about God. She’s a great Christian to me. Mom always works hard for my family. She cooks and helps me in school and with just about everything I do. Mom has brown eyes and beautiful brown hair. She likes to hug and kiss me. We scrapbook, read, take bike rides, and shop together. I love my mom so so very much! I love to spend time with her because she is so special. Mom, your the best mom in the world. I love you!
Danielle, Age 9
My mom is the best mom in history! I am going to share a couple examples of how she serves. First, she cooks for seven just about every day. Next, she cleans the house and we learn with her. And she teaches us school and about God. I think the most important thing is she disciplines me. She has a quiet time every single morning. I know she loves me and cares about my soul and relationship with God. I can’t express how much I love my mom. I don’t know what I’d do without her! She is so special and I love being with her.
Brittany, Age 11
2006 at 3:30 pm | by Kristin Chesemore
My mom is the worthiest woman I know to honor. When I consider the life she has lived as a single-mom for so many years and the way she has sacrificially laid down her life day after day, well, I am left speechless and in wonder of how to thank such a person.
My childhood memories mostly start after my dad left, and they are filled with images of a woman who, hour by hour lived in service to her 2 daughters. She would awake every morning serving us, go to work at a full-time job and then come home to ALWAYS cook a hot meal for us. And then, if there were church activities in the evenings, off we went to drive the 30 minutes from where we lived so we could participate. This often meant she needed to find something to do, while she waited for us. I never once remember my mom ever doing anything that wasn’t in service to us and I never once remember her complaining.
Her time was not her own. Even things such as hobbies, meeting with friends, or even trying to find another husband, never crossed her mind. Simply put, her life was completely dedicated to two little girls and that clearly spoke volumes of the gospel to our watching eyes. And what’s more amazing is that everything she ever did (and still does) was done with joy!
There was a time during my early teens, when my mom was very limited in how much time she could devote to teaching me certain homemaking skills, child-training skills, and other things. It was just not possible for her, working full-time. So, in the mornings of my summer vacation, my mom would drop me off at another house – a family in the church who had young children. It was here that I learned many skills pertaining to being a wife, mom, and homemaker. She wanted me to be around them – to have the opportunity both to serve and to learn. I learned SO much, but never once was she bitter or jealous for not being able to do this herself. Instead, to this day, only gratefulness fills her heart toward this family. The skills I learned from this mother have so served me as I am now a wife, mom, and homemaker. But I know that it was primarily because of my mom’s heart for me and due to her service to me, that I could learn these things.
It was not until I was married that I began to realize the extent of all that my mom has done for me over the years. And then when I had my daughter and found out how hard mothering can be, I was freshly amazed. I don’t even work full-time and I still can’t imagine how she managed to be the homemaker and mother that she was to us. All I can say is that, “isn’t grace amazing?!!!”
Her life so testifies to the amazing grace of our Savior. Her life to this day continues to amaze me by how much she does, in now caring for her elderly mother, leading both a care group and a discipleship group at our church, babysitting for grandkids to name a few, all while still working full time. The service never ended, even after my sister and I were married. It just extended to different people and in different avenues. It all points to grace, enabling grace to do all that she does. And to a watching world, the gospel is clearly being demonstrated.
There was a quote that Carolyn mentioned in her post, "Washing the Feet of the Saints." When I read it, I thought right away, “what a picture of my mom.” John MacArthur writes, in reference to washing feet, "The menial task of washing the feet spoke metaphorically of humility (Jn. 13:5-17). The requirement, then, stresses that a widow have a humble servant’s heart. She gives her life in lowly service to those in need."
My mom’s life is completely characterized by giving her self in lowly service to those in need. I am so grateful my children now have the opportunity to know her as I do. I look forward to the day when my now 2-year old and baby (to be born in less than a month) are old enough, so I can point them to my mom and say, “girls, you are rich children because of the legacy your Noni has left you. Many of the blessings and the grace that you receive is in large part because of her life and the sacrifices she has made.” Even more so, I look forward to That Day, when I will be one the loudest, cheering her on, as she stands before our Lord to receive her reward. I believe she will receive one big, “well done, my good and faithful servant.”
I want to honor my mom for the way she honors her mom.
In doing this, I cannot overlook the fact that my mom rises early each day (4:15am) to meet with the Lord and is active in going after her heart. Because of her faithfulness in meeting with God, He has poured out grace, in posturing her heart to serve her 84 year old mother and to lay down her life in a way that is foreign in our culture.
One year ago, my grammy moved in with my mom. This was an answer of prayer for us all, to have her closer and be able to care for her. Prior to this my mom was actively seeking the Lord in preparing her heart to serve Grammy and also to return unkind words and actions with love. As we all know, God uses whomever we live with to expose our hearts, but it is even harder when that person is not a believer. Gram is adamantly opposed to Christ and the church.
In these past months, I have watched up close the influence of my mom’s example on my Gram. When conflicts arose, Mom admitted her sin and she humbly returned to seek forgiveness. Her witness affected Grammy, such that in one instance when my Gram had done something against my mom, she called my mom at work to apologize. Gram NEVER did this before.
With all this, I have observed my mom be more aware of her failings and her impatience with Gram. Yet recently, when Grammy was asked to describe mom in one word, she chose “Kind.” And I would like to share why she would characterize Mom in this way.
After the Lord, Mom has made Grammy her utmost priority. Not that she neglects serving our church in any way, but she evaluates what she does in a new way. She amazes me in how she currently serves as a care group assistant in the singles ministry as well as leading a discipleship group of young women. She works a full-time job, has a home and yard to care for. On top of that she now cleans Gram’s suite and has taken the financial burden of the extra utility costs. She truly has laid her life down for her mom.
Every weekend she carves out time to get Grammy out of the house. For the most part it is shopping, other times it is taking off work to take her downtown to see the cherry blossoms. It can be to see a movie or going out to eat. This could be viewed as fun but it is also hard work. Due to Grammy’s arthritis she cannot walk for long periods, so it requires Mom pushing her in a wheelchair wherever they go. And this is always done with much joy and never a complaint.
We ourselves have seen the fruit of Mom’s sacrifices and labor’s in Grammy’s life. Grammy’s heart is softening. And I think, no I know, it is that she observes the Gospel being lived out before her as Mom cares for her. This is God’s common grace on Grammy and an effect of Mom’s love for her.