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Mom Nielsen – June 1950

When I was younger one of the main targets of comedians was their mothers-in-law. Down through the years I have poked fun at my own mother-in-law from time to time. Like most of us – OK, ALL of us – she could sometimes be a walking contradiction as she walked by faith in a physical and troubled world. She seemed to be able to find a dark cloud behind any silver lining – but then in the next breath she’d remind us to trust in the Lord. When I met Joy’s mom, I wasn’t a believer, and definitely not a clean-cut, church-going type of teen my mother-in-law may have preferred for her daughter, but she was kind to me, and as I later discovered, she prayed for me. She trusted God with the care of her daughter who had already staked her claim on my heart. Joy assures me that Mom did cast a suspicious eye my way occasionally, even though I may not have been aware of it. She was the furthest thing from naïveté. I think she was part of the “trust but verify” generation. I’m pretty sure her daughter is a “trust but verify” person as well. Over time though, I became, along with Joy’s other close friends, one of her kids. And yes, she prayed for all of us. She wanted us to know and trust God as she did.

She was a stay-at-home mom, something that was widely practiced in that time, but she certainly did not have a leisurely life. With a house full of bratty well-mannered children, she had tons of laundry to do, a house to keep, and meals to make. Still, she found time to faithfully read and study God’s Word and – as you can probably guess – pray. I suspect that raising seven kids in a world which seemed to her to be crashing in on itself, prayer was undoubtedly very important to her.

When Joy and I married and had kids of our own, Joy developed a three-step program for raising our own kids.

  • Step one: pray for your kids every day.
  • Step two: get family and friends to pray for your kids every day.
  • Step three: enlist, by whatever means necessary, perfect strangers, people walking down the street, and anyone else you can find to pray for your kids every day.

I sometimes wonder – did Joy get that by observing her mother?

I noticed our dependence on the prayers of my mother-in-law grew along with our kids. She was a “power pray-er,” both the fourth and fifth “step” – and probably could be jacked up to the tenth “step” when heavy duty concerns came around, whether involving the kids or not!

She was, in fact, the prayer backstop for all her children and grandchildren, and we wonder now how she found time for anything else. She and her prayers are sorely missed now that she has gone home to the Lord.

But as is often the case, as we age we become more like our parents than we would have ever imagined. That is true of Juanita’s daughter, my wife and mother of our children, Joy. I see it as she prays for our kids and grandkids and works to pass on the faith to them. She also takes out and uses her mother’s suspicious glance when she feels it’s warranted. I reflect on this just a few days before Mother’s Day, a day we give honor to our mothers, whether they are still with us or have gone on ahead. 2 Timothy 1:5 is a verse which reminds me of all faithful godly mothers and grandmothers:

I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.

A mother’s prayers are surely a force to be reckoned with, because of Who she is praying to. May that force – not the mystical force of Star Wars fame – be with you, and may that force be you for the sake of someone else.Ω


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