My mom, at eighty-one years old, went home to be with Jesus on October 24, 2017. I had the privilege of sharing about her life at her funeral. What follows is a condensed form of the testimony I gave to honor her. Here are seven phrases that describe her:
- Diligent Worker
As a young girl my mom lived on a small Illinois farm. She consistently did things like drive a tractor to cultivate weeds in the fields, mow the yard with a manual push mower with no motor, hoe weeds in the garden, carry water to the hogs, and feed the chickens. She washed clothes with a wringer washer and then hung them out on a clothesline. Later in life she was a skilled typist for the Bible Translation team in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formally called Zaire). Mom also typed multiple drafts of my Master’s Thesis (before computers). She always worked hard and did a good job no matter what she was doing.
- Sacrificial Mother
My mother gave birth to four boys and in raising them, she sacrificed much. It is staggering to think how many dirty diapers she changed beginning in 1956 B.D. (before disposables!). Then there were the hundreds of after-school snacks, the thousands of loads of laundry, and the innumerable messes she cleaned up. She was always there at ball games, school plays, and graduations. She was always there when I came home from school and by my side when I was sick. She always fed us boys before she ate and often went without nice things so we could have things like basketball shoes.
- Committed Wife
My mom and dad did not have an easy marriage. There were lots of ups and downs and struggles, but they stuck it out and stayed together for over 61 years. There were times when both of them could have walked away from marriage, but they stayed committed to each other and to the Lord.
- Courageous Missionary
Mom decided to be a missionary in Africa when she was in her forties. I will never forget the phone call I received from my parents while they were attending a missions conference in California in 1977. I was a sophomore in college when I received the shocking phone call. Dad explained that they had decided to move to the Congo and be missionaries. My first response was anger at dad for dragging my mom to Africa and I demanded he put her on the phone. Mom calmly explained that the decision was just as much hers. Their courageous decision to go to the Congo resulted in major implications for my own life. I eventually became a missionary to the Congo and later an Intercultural Studies (Missions) professor.
- Generous Grandmother
My mom had eight grandchildren and she loved them all dearly. They all have memories of her babysitting them, making them homemade birthday cards, and video-taping their favorite TV shows. She constantly cut out comic strips and articles tailor made for each grandchild as well as write them long letters full of wisdom and advice. Mom also had three great-grandchildren that she adored. The youngest one, Lydia (at nine months old) was able to minister to mom when she was bedfast during the last few days of her life. Lydia pulled herself up to the side of mom’s bed as mom patted her hand and smiled.
- Lifelong Learner
Even when mom had serious eye problems and cataracts, she would sit in her chair and read the Bible or other books and articles with a magnifying glass. Mom believed she could continue to learn as long as she was alive.
- Faithful Christian
So much of life is caught rather than taught. Our kids are always watching us and they can tell what is real and what is fake. My mom wasn’t perfect, but I could tell her faith was real. She took us four boys to church every Sunday, we prayed before every meal, as well as bedtime. I saw my mom pray and I saw the way she handled every day pressures and times of crisis. She was a prayer warrior. Mom helped to fuel the faith of our family. My mom loved her Lord and she wanted everyone else to love him too.
I am deeply grieving the loss of my mom and I miss her tons, but I also know that she is more alive today in the presence of the Lord than she ever was on earth. Praise God for the resurrection! I can’t wait to see her again!
REFLECTIONS: Are there things you need to thank your parents for while they are still alive? Is there something you can do for your mother or father that would bless them? Is there something you can say to your mother or father that would encourage or honor them?
Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints