Posted in 2022 Lent Devotions

Take care of my mom

“Mirror of the Passion” Lent devotion for April 15, 2022. Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home. (John 19:26-27)

The dying often worry about those they will be leaving behind. Those left behind have to assure them, “I’ll be fine.”

This is on Jesus’ mind as his moment of death approaches. His mother, Mary, is there at Golgotha, along with John, “disciple whom he loved.” From the cross Jesus says, “John’s going to take care of you now,” and then, “Take good care of mom for me, John.” The gospels don’t mention Joseph after he and Mary find the twelve year old Jesus in the temple. That was about twenty years ago. I guess he’s not around anymore.

Mary was entrusted with the honor and responsibility of giving birth to the Christ and taking care of him as he grew up in Nazareth. She fed him, taught him how to walk and talk, and raised him in the Jewish faith. I’m there were many moments when she told Jesus to be careful, have a good day, and be home in time for supper as he headed out the door.

How we take for granted those who spent so much time taking care of us when we were growing up. When you have kids of your own, though, you become aware of what it takes to have a little one dependent upon you. You begin to understand and appreciate those who prayed for you each night, took you all those places you needed to go, and watched to see what kind of man or woman you would become. And when you wanted to go off on your own, they struggled to let you go. They just wanted to hug you forever!

The mother of our Lord knew she couldn’t hold on to her son forever. She knew why he had come. She knew his hour had come. She knew it was time to let him go. But it wasn’t easy. Not here, at the cross, at Golgotha.

I wonder how often someone asked, “Hey, Jesus, is there anything I can help you with? Anything I can get for you?” The Jesus we get to know in the gospels is low maintenance. He didn’t need much and didn’t ask for much. Just some water at a well in Samaria. A few figs from a tree. And now, “Do me a favor. Take care of my mom.”

Thanks for everyone who has and will take care of me. Amen.

Posted in bible, family, Ministry

My Good Friday Bible

Today, I dusted off what I call my “Good Friday” bible and took it into the sanctuary in preparation for tonight’s Tenebrae (darkness) worship service. I call it my “Good Friday” bible because that is the one day a year when I use this massive volume. It measures about 12″x9″x3″ and weighs about 8 pounds, easily the largest book on my shelves. It has more than enough power for the end of the worship service when in complete darkness I slam it on the altar, reminding us of the closing up of Jesus’ tomb.

I received this bible from my mom and dad on my wedding day, nearly thirty-four years ago. They, too had a large bible like this at home that had been given to them. I don’t remember ever reading from it much. We had plenty of other bibles that we used for our personal and family devotions. The large bible contained a little bit of family tree names and dates, plus a couple of inspirational bookmarks.

I have slammed this bible on the altar thirty-two times, the number of years I have been a pastor and led worship on Good Friday. You can tell from the cracked binding that this book was only designed to be slammed about twenty-five times.

As I opened it up, I saw the dedication page written by my mom, with the reference to Psalm 18:30-36 and her blessing and prayer, “May your children give you as much joy as you have me.”

This psalm reference contains one of her favorite scriptural images, “He maketh my feet like hinds’ feet, and setteth me upon my high places” (Psalm 18:33 KJV). One of my mom’s favorite books was Hannah Hurnard’s Hinds’ Feet on High Places, “a timeless allegory dramatizing the yearning of God’s children to be led to new heights of love, joy, and victory” ( She purchased and gave away dozens of those books. She knew well the difficult life in the trenches as a mom, wife and nurse. But she also knew joy. She knew the thrill of skipping sure-footedly across the mountains of God’s promises to see the past, present and future from a whole new perspective. I am thankful that she passed that thrill along to me.

By grace, God heard and answered her prayer many times over. My children and now my grandchildren continue to fill my life with so much joy! Thirty-four years later, I understand what mom was talking about.








Posted in Life

A Tribute to Mom

Mom (Nancy Douthwaite) in a 1993 photo from our home in West Des Moines, IA
Mom (Nancy Douthwaite) in a 1993 photo from our home in West Des Moines, IA

How many blog posts will be written about moms this weekend? Lots and lots, I’m sure. Well, I’m not going to be left out! Here’s my tribute to mom, someone I don’t think I’ve ever written about before.

My mom died a little over eight years ago, finally succumbing to a ten-year battle with cancer. Married to my dad for fourty-nine years, her faith, love and talents live on in the families of her children.

Mom was a nurse, graduating from Philadelphia General Hospital. She wore white, wore a cap (a unique double frill), and worked weekends. That’s when my dad learned how to cook. Thank goodness for Hamburger Helper. She talked me into volunteering at the hospital, getting ice water, giving up meal trays, feeding those who needed help, and occasionally moving a corpse to the morgue. I’ve always believed that those experiences helped me feel comfortable making hospital visits.

Mom was a musician. She was a talented pianist. In my mind I can still hear her playing Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata and accompanying some family singalongs. That gene was passed along to all of us kids and grandchildren.

Mom was a writer. She took a creative writing class, and I am sure files of her manuscripts are still in the basement of our home in Ridley Park. She always had millions of notebooks and pens around the house, filled with lists, ideas, doodles and bible passages. She just loved the feel of the ages of a brand new notebook.

Mom was an artist. She did some oils but I especially remember some of her charcoal sketches. A few swipes across a piece of paper and suddenly she had drawn a picture of you. Amazing.

Mom loved chocolate.

Mom was a Christian. She and my dad were absolutely faithful in worship, she taught Sunday School and Bible classes, loved to read books about spiritual topics and was amazingly active in sharing her faith, especially with the family. I vividly remember our family devotions after supper each night. We three kids rotated through the duties of lighting the candle, reading the scripture and then the My Devotions article. Our family life was intricately interwoven with the life of the church all throughout my growing up years. Do you think God was able to use her to raise up a few pastors (my brother and I) and an organist and teacher (my sister) for His church? Yep.

Mom probably had no idea how many lives she touched simply by being who she was, following Christ and loving her husband and children. Not perfect, just redeemed. Not famous, but definitely remembered.

(Stay tuned: I’m writing about dad on June 16.)