Grace was in her steps . . . Heaven in her eyes

Motherhood was God’s idea. He purposefully created women to carry, give birth to, nurse, nurture, teach, and tenderly love their children in a way unique to women. It was His plan that a bond of unconditional love be forged between mother and child that would bridge any divide, face down any storm and last for eternity. I am blessed to not only have had a wonderful mother of my own but several wonderful “mothers” in my life.

My Mother

Clara Mae Avery 1923-1995

My mother was a simple, hardworking homemaker who loved her children. She was a genuine saint who loved God until it showed.  She was ever present, always encouraging, never demeaning, faithful in prayer and always ready to laugh. Mother taught me so much about practical Christianity. She also instilled a sense of confidence in me that was far beyond my capacity to perform. The following two quotes capture some of what she meant to me and what she did for me.

“I learned more about Christianity from my mother than from all the theologians in England.” (John Wesley)

“When I was a child my mother said to me, ‘If you become a soldier, you’ll be a general. If you become a monk, you’ll be the pope.’ Instead I became a painter and wound up as Picasso.” (Pablo Picasso)

Her Mother and Mine

Virginia Vernon 1918-2012

My mother-in-law had one of the most gentle, selfless and soft spoken personalities of any women I ever knew – yet that softness covered a frame of pure unbendable steel.  Granny was a sharecropper’s daughter, a mother of eight (three in diapers at one time) a pastor’s wife, a missionary stateswoman, well read, a fantastic speller, a caregiver (eleven years to an invalid husband), a long term widow and all the while her children’s loving mother. She faced the normal trials of life plus: open heart surgery, Parkinson’s, a broken hip (that left her bedfast for ten years) partial blindness and much loneliness. Yet I never, ever heard her complain or whine! She never lost her sense of humor – even at age 94. She was a great role model!

Their Mother

Rebecca Ruth (Vernon) Avery

My wife and the mother of my children is almost an exact replica of her mother. She is witty, selfless, others oriented, extremely well read, hardworking, holds confidences (and her tongue), lives for her family, is prayerful and supportive. She has a very single devotion to her faith, her family and her husband. Watching her in action as she raised our two sons was a joy. She read to them and later with them – constantly. She taught them to read and write before they ever attended school. Their achievements today must largely be credited to the lessons they learn at her knee.

Other Mothers

Dot Brown, Mary Stetler

My mother suffered a massive stroke the night before I was installed as president of GBS. My parents had traveled to Cincinnati with me to share in this special day but mother never made it to the Hilltop. She lived only six months after the stroke. After her death, two godly women became “mothers” to me. Dot Brown, a retired nurse and my first Dean of Women, was one of those rare discerning saints who always seem to have the right piece of advice at just the right time. Her counsel and support were priceless. And then there was Mary Stetler. Mary Stetler came to me shortly after my mother died and said, “I know you have lost the woman that prayed for you every day. I want you to know I am going to pray for you now” – and she has!

No one can take the place of your own dear mother but I am so grateful for the wonderful mothers God has providentially placed in my life. So to them and to all of the wonderful mothers who will read this, I honor you with a quote from   John Milton’s Paradise Lost, “Grace was in all her steps, heaven in her eye, in every gesture dignity and love.” Happy Mother’s Day!


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