Ordinary Woman … Extraordinary God

In the days leading up to Mother’s Day, I have been thinking about my mom. I have talked and written quite a bit about her, so, there isn’t really anything new to say. But, just because there isn’t anything new to say, does not mean that I can’t REPEAT some things!

A Facebook post last week resulted in a long conversation with a friend about my mom and God. I thought I would share a recap of that exchange. In the post I said,

She was just an “ordinary” woman in so many ways, yet, “extraordinary” in so many other ways.

The friend, who dearly loved my mom, took issue with my calling her ordinary. And, while I understand what she was saying, my mom was ordinary.

My mom—Jeannie to people of all ages who knew her—was the eighth child (fifth girl) of nine children born to Callie (Hudson) and Olin Thomason. She always described herself as an ordinary, awkward, bucktoothed girl who was always the clown!

For those who knew my mom, ordinary is NOT a word that usually comes to mind when you think of her. Yet, she was ordinary in so many ways.

In her childhood and teens, she struggled to “fit in” at school, had grandiose dreams of what she wanted to do in her life, places she wanted to go, got frustrated with her siblings, she preferred having fun wherever she was … and the list goes on and on. Like most of us, she got angry at and hurt by people and circumstances, dealt with the effects of aging on her health and body, experienced a myriad of disappointments … and this list goes on and on, too!

She did laundry, cooked meals, ironed and mended clothes, did the grocery shopping, doctored a gazillion boo-boos, and kissed away her children’s fears and hurts.

Mom’s life wasn’t easy in many ways and she experienced innumerable hardships. Just six weeks before her birth, my grandmother had to have emergency gall bladder surgery, very risky surgery for both my grandmother and mom. The doctors really didn’t expect that my mom would survive the surgery, but she not only survived the surgery and remained safely in my grandmother’s womb—she thrived! While serving as a missionary in Nigeria, West Africa, a can exploded inside a wood stove, badly burning mom. She buried two sons and a grandson, and many other family and friends. She had a myriad of health issues in her later years.

Why is it that such an ordinary woman is remembered by so many people as extraordinary?

When teaching or writing, I always use my mom as my quintessential earthly example of a life exhibiting the joy of the Lord (Nehemiah 8:10 and Psalm 28:7).

In the midst of hardships, disappointments, fear, and great loss, mom would pray, “Lord God, strengthen me so that all those watching will know that You alone are my strength and hope.” That prayer was often followed by her singing, The Light of the World is Jesus (Philip P. Bliss, 1875, Public Domain):

No darkness have we Who in Jesus abide;
The Light of the world is Jesus!
We walk in the light when we follow our Guide!
The Light of the world is Jesus!

Come to the light, ‘tis shining for thee;
Sweetly the light has dawned upon me.
Once I was blind, but now I can see:
The Light of the world is Jesus!

Now, you need to know that in my mom’s later years her singing voice was raspy and a bit off-tune, however, in those moments, as she prayed and sang, often with huge tears running down her cheeks, she sang beautifully, as I imagine the angels sound. And, at that precise moment, there would not be a movement or a sound from anyone within earshot or eyesight, as this ordinary woman led everyone to look to Light of the World (Hebrews 12:1-2).

How did she do that?  How was it possible in the midst of such dire circumstances?

It was possible, because … God said Let there be light (Genesis 1:1-4).

It was possible, because … The Light dispelled the darkness of her sin (I John 1:5).

It was possible, because … she knew The Light of the World (John 8:12).

It was possible, because … The Light of the Holy Spirit taught her as she read, memorized, and leaned, the Word of God (2 Corinthians 4:1-6).

It was possible, because … she understood what it meant to present her body a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God (Romans 12:1).

It was possible, because … she practiced being transformed by the continual renewing of her mind (Romans 12:2).

How was it possible for mom to lead people have such strong faith and to exhibit the joy of the Lord in and through every circumstance?

When people looked at this ordinary woman, my mom, they saw the work of an EXTRAORDINARY GOD shine in and through her because she knew, loved, and obediently served Him!

“We are told to let our light shine, and if it does, we won’t need to tell anybody it does. Lighthouses don’t fire cannons to call attention to their shining—they just shine.”  -Dwight L. Moody

My Mother’s Day celebration includes giving thanks to the Lord for the of my precious mom who shined brightly for her Savior and Lord, Jesus!