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My Mother, A Woman of Faith

My Mother, Woman of Faith - Beauty Observed

A guest post by my husband, Ed Nicholson.

See that sensible-looking woman in the picture above? That’s my mother, Mary. I’ve known her for about as long as I can remember. Hopefully Mother’s Day isn’t too far off for a post like this. She’s been on my mind lately, and I’d like to tell you a little about her and how she helped to shape my journey of faith.

In the early days, my family was, perhaps, only marginally religious. We attended a Methodist church and we celebrated the usual holy days like Easter and Christmas and First Day of Summer. There were a lot of Catholics in our town, so we’d see the ash marks on the foreheads of the faithful in early March, but that seemed a little fanatic to our sensible faith. We ate meat every day of the week, thank you. For my family back then, church was something that stayed pretty much at church.

Then came the big change.

My mom had grown up in Virginia, and most of her family still lived there. We lived in Ohio, but we’d visit the southern half of the family often. One year, when I was about 12 years old, Mom decided to take a trip to Virginia with me and my sister. Susie is six years younger than I, so she would have been six at the time. I thought of her then, and still do, as my baby sister. I was going to be the man of the family on this trip. The Protector. I’m not sure now why the whole family didn’t go, but my dad and two older brothers stayed home in Cleveland while Mom, Susie and I loaded up the car for the 500 mile trip and headed south.

When we first arrived, I mostly did the apathetic kid thing – lying about with my Sony Walkman cassette player, listening to Led Zeppelin – but I was aware enough to know that something was up. One of Mom’s sisters had undergone a sort of major religious conversion. I overheard Mom and her talking about some new church. Aunt Darlene used Jesus’ name at least four times in each sentence, and she speaks a mile-a-minute, so that’s a lot of Jesus, let me tell ya. Maybe she had joined an ashes-on-the-forehead church? I couldn’t know for sure, but whatever it was, my Mom wanted to know more.

Over the next few days, we went to my Aunt Dolly’s new church about 30 times. OK, maybe we only went a handful of times, but it seemed like we were there a lot. They did not put ashes on people there, but from the perspective of a young Methodist, they did some really weird things. First off, they were loud people. Nice people, but loud. The music was loud. The sermons were loud. Their prayers were even loud. I had been taught that God saw and heard everything, but these people wanted to make sure He could hear them very clearly. They talked about Jesus like they knew Him personally – as if they had just run into Him at the Piggly Wiggly before church. What in the heck was going on here? I didn’t know. But God was speaking to my mother. Loudly.

And she responded.

My mom experienced the same religious awakening that her sister had experienced. She became Spirit Filled. Now, I do not want to get into doctrinal issues here about what various Christians hold to with regard to the infilling of the Holy Spirit. That is beyond the scope of this article and beyond the purpose of Beauty Observed. It is enough to say that all Christians believe that the Third Person of the Trinity is the agent of God that draws people to Himself. He is alive and well. Baptists, Methodists, Charismatics and Catholics all believe this. This basic idea is as orthodox as the Resurrection, so there is no need to quibble.

But I digress… My mother was on fire for God, and I was terrified.

After our visit in Virginia, we were ready to head home. Mom was changed. Big time. She was a Spirit-filled, devil-stomping prayer-warrior for God. We got into our Chevy Caprice Classic and Mom promptly took off her glasses, claiming, “I am healed by Jesus’ stripes! I no longer need these.” I was in the back seat because it was the furthest spot in the car from my Mom besides the trunk. I was holding on to my role as my sister’s protector at this point. I had heard enough Bible stories in the Methodist church to remember something about God asking somebody to offer their son in sacrifice. Who knew what ideas might pop into Mom’s head?

Much of the rest of the trip is a blur of prayers said by Mom, loudly, and prayers said by me, under my breath, but I do recall a few highlights. After being horribly lost in the Blue Ridge Mountains for hours as my nearly blind Mother tried to navigate the switchback turns, a large bug slammed into the windshield. Thinking back, the thud of the impact along with the smeared guts of the thing suggested something a little bigger than just a bug. Perhaps it was a bird or a mountain lion, but my mom pointed to the red streak across the glass and declared, “It’s the Blood of the Lamb!” I turned up my Walkman just a little louder and held my sister a little tighter.

At another point, we stopped at a fast food restaurant to eat. We were sitting together at a small table with our cheeseburgers when an elderly man came up to us and handed Mom a silk flower with a small piece of paper taped to it. My mom – remember the picture of the sensible-looking woman above? – that woman in that picture stood up in the middle of Wendy’s, clapped her hands over the man’s ears and said, “Be HEALED in Jesus’ name!” She said it loudly. I looked at the piece of paper on the silk flower. It read, “Society for the Deaf. Donations Appreciated. God Bless You.” I’m not sure if God healed the man’s ears or not, but his eyes did get really big as Mom held onto his cranium. I am pretty sure though, that he didn’t hand out flowers to strangers anymore after that.

When we got home (proof of miracles) I told my dad and brothers that, “Something has happened to Mom.” I also called my aunt in Virginia and asked her how long it would take for whatever my mom had gotten to “wear off.” She laughed and assured me that it was just excessive zeal, and that Mom would be fine.

Over the months and years that followed, things did settle down a bit. Mom was fine. Whew. Her faith stayed as fervent as ever, but she mixed it more and more with knowledge and temperance and all of the other fruits of the Spirit. She never went back to the way she was before that trip, though. She was changed forever. And while I was scared at first, I eventually came around to seeing that her faith was real. Very real. She was not content to live 6 days a week without thinking about God, and then give Him a token of appreciation on Sunday. No. She was literally in love with Jesus. In one way or another, my Mom’s faith has permeated the whole family. Even my dad will casually quote Scripture to me or comment on something their pastor has said recently. All of Mom’s children are seeking to love Jesus like she does, even if they each approach it a little differently.

What my mom has taught me is that sometimes faith is awkward and stumbling. Paul the Apostle said that in this life we see through a glass dimly. My oldest brother is only recently coming back to loving Christ, and in a recent conversation about theology, he told me, “Faith is messy.” I think this is true. Watching my Mother’s journey of faith has shown the whole family that the important thing is to be open to what God wants to do in our lives. We do need balance, yes, but it’s so important that we learn the difference between when we need to sit and wait for God and when we need to stumble toward the kingdom of God, grab faith by the ears and wrestle it to the ground, claiming it as our own. Life is short, and we cannot afford the luxury of keeping God at arm’s length until we are ready. I think it was Martin Luther who said faith is an active, lively and mighty thing.

My Mother has an active and lively faith. She loves Jesus with all she has. I am positive that when she stands in Glory beside that man from Wendy’s, as they both worship God, that they will both understand and be grateful for what happened on that day when I was twelve.

I love you, Mom!

Ed Nicholson February 26, 2014

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19 thoughts on “My Mother, A Woman of Faith”

  • That was beautiful. I have stayed up singing song after song, and this blog was the perfect nightcap. What a legacy! God is amazing in how He works in each of our lives. Bless you and your family for sharing so much inspiration. Love you all!

  • Dear Deb,

    Thank you so much for reading this and leaving your kind words. Mom is a radiant beam from God for all of us.

    It’s funny. When I was younger, and even for a long time after my own religious awakening, I believed that we were in control of most of what happens to us in life. I just didn’t think that God “meddled” very much. The older I get, however, the more I see God’s hand in every detail. One of my favorite quotes is by Kierkegaard – “Life must be lived forwards, but it can only be understood backwards.”

    God is good.

    Love,
    Eddie

  • Good Morning, I did read every word, and I must tell you if a post is really long sometimes I will skim over it!
    Walkman I know your age LOL
    This blessed my heart, I think my son could have written this!
    Lovely and i am glad the Lord touched your Mother so powerfully!
    Blessings, Roxy

    • Roxy,

      Thanks for stopping by and reading the post. I had just gotten up to edit the bit about the rain in the mountains. My memory had me seeing it was raining, but after reflecting on it more, I don’t think it was. The rest (and more that I left out) is true! 🙂

      Those Walkmans were all the rage. And kid these days with an iPod or smart phone would have laughed at us.

      Have a good day,
      Eddie

  • Thanks, Eddie, for the laughs, memories, and tears! Every detail of that week is alive and well in my memory. It was a divine appointment, and I am forever grateful for this gift of the Holy Spirit. To clear up the rain issue: It was perfectly beautiful the whole way there. Coming home, there were thunderstorms, heavy rain, and construction all the way home with your sight-impaired mom. Strange, though, how all those side trips through the streets around Roanoke ended in front of churches or hospitals, where the Holy Spirit prayed for revival or healing.:). Remember when you told me I was blocking an ambulance trying to come in to the emergency room? No doubt, the devil really wanted to wipe us all out on the way home, but our Lord had a different plan, and here we are!
    I have so often thanked the Lord that He raised you up as my David to help slay all the Goliaths that would come against our family. I love you and Elizabeth, Eddie! Thanks for the loving words.

    Mom

    • Dear Mom,

      It was an amazing trip! God has been so good to us. You are this family’s Mary, who ponders things in her heart, but also sometimes shouts what’s in her heart out. Like, “Jesus is Lord!” And indeed He is. You know we ALL love you!

      Love,
      Eddie

  • Loved reading this and I could picture Mary in her zeal for serving the Lord and the new experiences in walking with Him. It also reminded me of when my own parents first started experiencing their revelation of the moving of Holy Spirit in their lives and as children, seeing our parents change, scarey at times, but , knowing it was something real . So thankful to have Him as a big part of our heritage.

    • Jeanie,

      Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. I find it interesting how many people can relate to this story from their own perspectives and childhoods! You’re right, God sometimes moves in ways that seem strange to us at the time, but it is all in His time – His way.

      Blessings,
      Eddie

  • Beautifully said, Ed! The very first time I heard you tell this story, I laughed and cringed at the image of her taking her glasses off and declaring herself healed . . . but not now. She had the faith of a little child then, and it’s matured to the faith of a mighty warrior now. It’s been an honor to know her and call her friend. Love to you, Elizabeth and the children!

    • Dear Lori,

      You are right about her faith. She simply believes – probably because she knows Jesus in such a real, but simple way. Thank you for stopping by to read and comment. We love you, too!

      Love,
      Eddie

  • 1. Your mom is beautiful. I want to hug her
    2. I LOVE this blog post. It made me giggle and gave me goosebumps.
    3. Thanks so much for linking up with #EverydayJesus.

    • Dear Sharita,

      Thanks for reading and commenting! And, yes, my mom is beautiful. Everyone that meets her loves her, and SHE would be giving YOU a hug! 🙂

      Blessings,
      Eddie

  • What a lovely testimony to a lovely woman! As the mother of three sons, I am thrilled to read about how a mom’s faith affected her children–even though sometimes it might have led to some embarrassing situations! I know your mom must be so grateful for you. God bless you all!

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