It’s cliché, but the years are passing quickly.
When I first met Nellie Jo, she was a mere sophomore in high school; I was a mighty junior. We dated for six years, and we’ve been married for 31 years.
Nellie Jo can brighten any room with her smile. She knows no guile. She has compassion for the weak and downtrodden. She knows no stranger. And she emanates the love of Christ in her life to all who know her.
So many accolades could rightly be given to this girl I call “Jo Jo.” But, among the many deserving titles that could be bestowed upon her, one my favorites is the simple but profound name of “Mom.”
I was in the delivery room when all three of my boys were born. With each birth, she looked at the little miracle handed to her and exclaimed, “Oh, Thomas, we have a son.”
Nellie Jo loves those boys with as selfless love as I have ever witnessed beyond the love of our Savior. From the moment of their births to the young men they are today, she radiates with joy at the mere mention of Sam, Art, and Jess. She loves with such a sacrificial love that it becomes an amazing thing to witness.
And those three boys love their Mom. They simply adore her. Every time I speak with one of the boys, they inevitably conclude the conversation with, “Tell Mom I love her."
Selfless Love in Action
I have so many stories about this Mom called Nellie Jo that a year of blogs could not contain them. Two will have to suffice.
Nellie Jo walked through the valley of cancer, chemotherapy, and radiation a few years ago. When she confronted the possibility of her own death, she thanked God that her boys were young men, and that they could make it just fine (so she thought) without her. In the midst of her own trial and suffering, her boys were first on her heart.
Shortly thereafter, as our sons married, she refused to hold on to them or lament this passage of life. Instead, Nellie Jo praised God that they had found wonderful Christian wives, and celebrated that each of the wives would now be the first lady in her sons’ lives.
Indeed, since the boys were born, this Mom had prayed for their salvation, and for them to be one day united with godly wives. Her boys were always at the first of heart, mind, and prayers.
Nellie Jo will celebrate another passage this October. She will become a grandmother. And I have no doubt that she will love this new gift of life with the same selfless love that has typified her life as a mother.
A Godly Mother
On the one hand, it is a shame that we have a Mother’s Day only once a year. The high calling of motherhood should be celebrated every day. On the other hand, it is a good reminder to those of us who sometimes get too busy to see that which is really important.
Nellie Jo is an incredible wife. And she is a mother who deserves so much more than my meager and insufficient words can offer in this blog.
We love you Nellie Jo.
Sam, Art, Jess, and I really do love you.
The wisdom writer offers these words in Proverbs 31:28:
“Her sons rise up and call her blessed. Her husband also praises her.”
And so I do.
And so I do.
Dr. Thom Rainer is president of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist.