On May 8, 2018, my mother, Joann Lee Brown, peacefully fell asleep in death at the age of 85 years, after suffering for 12 years from Alzheimer’s disease. She will always be remembered as a Godly woman with a lovingly devoted husband, loving children (Mary, Michael & wife, Diane), 8 grandchildren, and 15 great grandchildren along with two remaining brothers.
My mother was a great influence on us because she was primarily devoted to serving the Lord. Although she was not without her own faults (Who isn’t?), Mom’s desire was to give of her best to the Master in whatever she endeavored to do. She gave her life to Christ and was baptized in a nearby creek when she was in her teens along with eight other youths. While the others hesitated to be baptized first, she stepped forward and said, “I’ll go, then!”
When she was in high school, my mom was head majorette for the school band. She played sports like basketball and softball. When I was real young, I remember my mom playing fast pitch softball in a local women’s league. She was a catcher who played with all the zeal you’d expect from a take-charge leader. “Let’s get ’em out 1-2-3!” she’d shout out to her players when the opposing team came up to bat. Then she would whip that ball to the pitcher. And when she’d hit the ball, she’d keep running around the bases just daring someone to get her out. She was safe about every time. Her competitiveness showed a winning spirit that was part of her energetic nature.
My mom was a very talented singer. She had a wonderful alto voice. It blended in quite well with her mother’s soprano voice as well as her brother Dean’s baritone voice. They’re all resting in their graves now. But I can still see them singing in our church choir, and taking part in duets, trios, and quartets.
I am humbly grateful to have inherited my mom’s singing ability. In fact, the very first time I sang was with my mother at church when I was only four years old. I was too small to be seen behind the pulpit so I was lifted up and put on one of the front pews. As I stood on the seat, my mom and I sang, “Give Me Oil in My Lamp.”
For as many years as I can remember, mom led the children’s choruses at Sunday School each week. She picked out the songs from our chorus book at home and then rehearsed them in the car as my dad drove to church that morning. She would also practice any hand motions that might be in a chorus. When it came time for the choruses during the Sunday School opening, my mom would come up to the front and invite all the kids to come forward. Facing the congregation, the kids all stood in a line singing the choruses as my mom directed and sang with them. The rest of the congregation joined in, too.
My mom’s favorite song was, “Jesus Loves Me.” I imagine it was taught to her when she was a little girl by her mother. My mom not only sang it to my sister and me but her grandchildren when they were growing up. The tune and the words always stuck in her mind. Even when Alzheimer’s was erasing my mom’s ability to remember, she could still be heard singing that song word-for-word right up to the last year of her life. Amazing!
My mom set an example of what it means to be a follower of Christ not only by what she said but how she lived her life. She, as well as my dad, believed in prayer, regular church attendance which, in those days, included Sunday night and Wednesday Evening Bible study as well as Sunday School and Worship. She also, along with my dad, took part in every church activity and meeting. She and my dad were involved as senior youth leaders when I was fairly young. She was a Sunday School teacher for many years, and had a significant influence on a lot of children in her classes. One student fondly tells of the time she literally demonstrated the story of Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey. To impress the story upon her kids, she actually got down on all fours and had the children ride on her back as she played the part of the donkey.
My mom had a great bearing on my entering the ministry. She liked to brag to others (admittedly, to my embarrassment at times) that when I was a youngster I would stand in my bedroom and preach to the imaginary people sitting in some chairs I had lined up. Somehow she knew I was destined to be a minister someday and was glad to not only show her consent but to give me encouragement, as well.
I believe her support for me to enter ministry was because of something she disclosed to me many years ago. My mom said that she was not able to have children before I came along. But she said she earnestly prayed to the Lord just like Hannah in the Bible, who also could not bear children. She prayed that if the Lord would bless her with a child, she would dedicate him (or her) to the Lord just as that Godly woman in the Bible did. God answered Hannah’s prayers and graciously blessed her with a baby boy, Samuel, who grew up to become a prophet of the Lord. (1 Samuel 1:1-28). When God answered my mom’s prayers and I was born, I am sure this is why she was so dedicated to raise me up in the Lord and to serve him.
I could go on to tell you how she demonstrated a mother’s love to my sister and me, including her nature to protect us (Maybe a little over-protective sometimes but I can appreciate it now.), to comfort us, and to nurture us. Her concern was also to discipline us. “The rod of correction” was applied more than once on our bottom sides but always followed later by a tender hug to show she did it out of love. And like a good mother, she sacrificed for us including her time and possessions to provide for our needs. And most of all, she taught us the truth of God’s Word and how to keep it dear to our hearts. As for my sister and I, we will certainly treasure her in our hearts.
As I thought about what it means to have a Godly Mother, I came across a poem by Bonnie Campbell Bratcher which fittingly describes my mom. It is patterned after two Bible passages which read, “Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.” “Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it” (Prov. 31:28; Ps. 127:1).
A Godly Mother
A Godly Mother is a treasure –
A gift more precious than gold…
Her children rise up, and call her blessed,
And in high esteem do hold.
Her love is like that of our Savior
Who sacrificed His own life…
That we might live joyful, Godly lives
In a troubled world of strife.
Her heart is like His, holding us close
No matter how far we roam,
And her arms are always open wide…
To forgive and welcome home.
Her hands are busy molding our lives
From the moment we are born…
Planting seeds, loving, disciplining,
Even when weary and worn.
Her feet are always careful to go
Where her child can follow there…
How could we thank our Mother enough
For her tender loving care?
A Godly Mother fervently prays
For that child she loves so much,
For she knows the fruit of her vineyard…
Depends on the Master’s touch.
Although I grieve the loss of Mom, I am truly comforted with the comfort she instilled upon her children through her unswerving faith in the promises of God’s Word— namely, her anticipation of the Lord’s glorious return and the resurrection of all those who died looking for that Great Day to come. Many times she shared her hope in the coming of the Lord and the time when Jesus will come to awaken the dead who are asleep in Christ and give them immortality to reign with him in his Kingdom on earth. In her own Bible which I have before me, she has underlined these words from First Thessalonians 4:16 and 17, “For the Lord himself shall descended from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” She shared this comforting promise with us as the next verse says, “Wherefore comfort one another with these words,” (V. 18).
Here is one of the many songs my mom and I sang together at church, “(I am So Glad) Jesus Loves Even Me,” brought to you by the Cedarmont Kids: http://youtu.be/cr1po3RmfDs
Good News to YOU!