The Open Door: lessons from my mother


On Wednesday night before Thanksgiving, my 96-year-old mother went to bed and woke up in heaven.

There really is only one thing that I can say about that – Hallelujah! My mother lived her entire life as a follower of Jesus Christ. She grew up in a home with a godly mother and father. Her mother, who lived to be 100, taught a ladies’ Sunday School class for 60 years and her dad taught a young men’s Sunday School class for many years and was a Baptist deacon.

As a young girl, Mother walked forward at the invitation time and gave her heart to Jesus Christ. She graduated from Bethel College in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, a junior college of the Kentucky Baptist Convention. She also graduated from the University of Kentucky. Her major was physical education. I often tell our collegiate ministers that I owe everything to the Baptist Student Union, because my mom and dad met while attending a BSU retreat at the University of Kentucky. If it had not been for the Baptist Student Union, I guess I wouldn’t be here.

After Mother and Dad were married in Lexington, he took his new bride to Defuniak Springs, Florida where he was serving as pastor at First Baptist Church. That was in June of 1941, and thus began Mom’s career as a pastor’s wife. She was an outstanding pastor’s wife. She never strived for the spotlight. She was happiest raising her three children, preparing meals for the family, nurturing a peaceful Christian home, and being Dad’s best cheerleader.

No one could fry chicken better, or create the most incredible boiled custard as did my mother.

I grew up in a happy home with lots of love. I remember so well standing by my mom in church and holding my side of the hymnal as we sang hymns that remain my favorites today. When Dad read from God’s Word, I would read from my own Bible guided by the hand of my mother.

Mother was the one who taught me how to drive. She had a 1950 blue Chevrolet Deluxe. Going home from church on Sundays, she would allow me to shift the gears while she drove. Then, when I got my learner’s permit, Mom let me drive to and from church.

Mother was a prayer warrior. One of the things that hit me the hardest when she died was the thought that I am going to miss her fervent prayers for me and for our family and my ministry. She assured me that she prayed for me multiple times every day. In the midst of that thought, the Lord reminded me of Hebrews 12: 1-2. In that passage we are reminded that the saved, who have run ahead of us into heaven, make up a great cloud of witnesses who at this very moment are cheering us on in the race of life. My mother is in that host of witnesses now. That fact gives me a tremendous amount of joy and peace.

In the days immediately following the passing of my mother from her earthly life into her heavenly life, my family and I have been amazed, encouraged, and comforted by the many prayers, flowers, notes, and presence of our friends. Georgia Baptists friends who were able to come to Montgomery, Alabama for the funeral service overwhelmed my family and me. We are so grateful for your many expressions of love.

It is at moments like this that I am so grateful for God’s wonderful plan of salvation. Thank you, Jesus for coming to be our Savior, for giving Your life to redeem us from sin and for your resurrection that assures us of our own promise of eternal life. Thank you for your Holy Spirit Who is our guarantee of salvation and eternal life. My, what a Savior we have! I am so grateful!

death, family, legacy, witness