Last week I enjoyed a three-day pastor’s conference with Leo Cumings (Bethel’s pastor for 23 years) and my brothers Kevin and Nathan, our brother-in-law Jim, and a nephew, Zach. It was an enriching conference. I wrote about it here. I worked hard on Thursday and spent my day off Friday “birding” with my friend David Parsons. We visited “The Biggest Week in Birding.”
Spring is coming slowly out on Bittersweet Farm. It is the 12th of May and this morning I noticed the furnace running. The leaves are budding into a beautiful canopy of green. The white and pink dogwoods and purple redbuds are opening. Lilacs are flowering. Hope and her boyfriend Tim were out on the evening porch the other night and heard the call of the Barred Owl from the woods across the road. There are other noises in the dark that I hope to be able to identify some day.
It’s Mother’s Day in America. Lois was/is a mother of eight. That is not a misprint. She bore eight children into the world. I had a front-row seat for the last almost 40 years to watch her serve and work and cook and clean and organize and forgive and love and listen and teach and work and work and work, oh, and did I mention, work?
She is loyal. She is always working to make a little money to help out. She never let the children leave the house in an unpresentable way. She never let anyone ever go hungry. I have stories I could tell that would make grown men cry of this woman who is not at all afraid of letting you know exactly how wrong you are, but she would not let you go hungry. I always tell people, if I left an important file at home I would never call her and ask her to bring it to me. I would call her and tell her I was hungry. She would offer to bring me food and then I would ask her to pick up the file on the way and bring it along with my food.
One day I was an hour from home and had no way to buy lunch. I went to a favorite book store to spend some time and distract me from my hunger. I felt a feminine presence and a soft hand on my back and heard a familiar voice. I turned to see Lois standing there. She had come into a bit of money and she drove an hour away and an hour back home to see to it that I would not have to miss lunch.
She made clothes for the girls. She sacrificed so we could get to our home-education conference every year. She did whatever needed to be done to get our family the conference that was so important to us at the time. I taught all the children to be readers, but she taught all of them to read.
This year we were blessed to fly out to Oregon and spend a week of vacation with our daughter Holly and her family after Holly had a baby girl (Miss Bella Allene). Every night she prepared a beautiful meal and special dessert and coached Holly in nursing. It was wonderful to be there and see her simple mountain-woman ways and, of course, enjoy the meals. The other night one of our daughter Heidi was ill, she got in the car late in the evening and drove five hours to her home to be with her and nurse her to health.
Around Bittersweet Farm she is constantly making home. She is reclaiming things, making candles, taking pictures to support her hobbies and interests, plotting vintage shows with her sister and puttering around with things that bring beauty to our lives. She has simple tastes.
As a pastors wife, she is quick to remind me of my duties, even when I don’t feel I need it. There are many times over the last 40 years we have been in the ministry that she has pointed out a needy parishioner I might have overlooked. My attention to them was timely and God used Lois to lead me to be in the right place at the right time. We are in a beautiful season of fellowship and flourishing right now at Bethel Church, but there have been times over those four decades that people have been fickle, or unkind, unfair or downright depraved or cruel in their treatment of me. She is not shy about letting me know if I need correction, but she is loyal with a fierce loyalty.
She is not quick to speak publicly but she would never deny her Lord and what He has done for her. When I call on her to give a testimony the whole church grows silent and we all learn things about her heart that we didn’t know. I once saw her, in a few simple, logical sentences silence a professor who was unconvinced of the reality of hell. It’s a story I love to tell. Ask me some day.
I could write more but I promised to take her to ice cream and she just called up the stairs and said; “It’s time to go.”
May 12, 2019 (Mother’s Day)