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.








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.)