The List

It was #14 on that list penned by a motherless teenage girl.  The list could have included “long walks on the beach” and being “romantic” but rather, this list consisted of qualities desired in a man of God fit to be a lifelong partner in the Gospel. It was the list of a teenage girl who wished to bypass the drama of pointless boyfriends, in order to hold out for the mate God had foreordained for her.  And the list included #14. “He has mother who I get along with well.” Because that was important to me, in the absence of my own.

It was a feeble request to a God who promises to do “exceedingly and abundantly above all that we ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20) I had NO idea how pathetic my request was compared to the woman God would bring into my life through my husband.  A woman who has now nurtured me, mentored me, gracefully shared the wisdom she has attained through years of adventure, struggle, and walking with God in the midst of missionary life and raising NINE children.

This answer to prayer, this woman who nurtured my husband for so many years, and who now nurtures me and my children, has flown across continents and oceans FIVE times over, in order to be present for the arrival of each of our babies, and to nurse me back to health in the wake of labor and delivery. And she comes with so much more than willing hands to fold laundry, cook meals, organize closets, and occupy grandchildren.  She comes with her servant hearted example, a deep humility, eyes set on Christ, and profound wisdom for that motherless girl now on the front-end of the mothering adventure.

Carol Iverson and her first grand baby, Daniel Josiah

Her first visit, she was a guide post at the beginning of so many adventures to come. New to full time ministry in the inner city, new to sharing my home with needy individuals, new to housemate who we were trying to help get back on their feet, and very new to the adventures of motherhood. She came to a scared young woman who didn’t know what on earth to do with a newborn life solely dependent upon her care and attention.  She taught me all the foundational “stuff” for caring for little ones. Books just don’t cut it, when the baby is screaming in the middle of the night and you don’t know what to do. You need an older mamma’s voice to coach you in your care.

“Ba Ba” and Trinity (with Aunt Betsy in the background)

Her second visit was truly a stream in the desert.  The desert of Newark, where all around was parched ground that her son and daughter-in-law were seeking to satisfy with the Living Water.  For two years we had been pouring into the parched ground of teenage boys living with us, constant knocking on the door by drug addicts, the homeless, neighborhood girls who wanted a safe place to hang out. Since my husband is the leader of men, fatherless teenage boys flocked to our home, to our dinner table, to our family life. I was absolutely surrounded by men. In the midst of a busy ministry, who had time to cultivate relationships with female friends? But what a sweet refreshment it was to have an experienced mother, wife, hostess, and missionary to talk to in order to glean wisdom and advice from.

“Mom” with Katy-Grace

Her third visit, I thought surely wouldn’t happen. I had already been spoiled for two baby arrivals and surely I couldn’t expect her to fly from Japan AGAIN to be with us.  But God worked things out so she could come, and what a blessing, in the midst of a painful recovery while a three and one year old scampered around the house and needed constant attention and care. She graced us with delicious meals, a cleaned house, “Grandma time” for the kids, and the added “protection” from constant neighborhood visitors (when you are 10 years old and bored, what’s more fun than visiting Miss Kimberly and the new baby?!?)

Mom cuddling Benjamin

Her fourth visit came in a new location, Orlando, just a month after we had moved into our new home. The now-a-bit-more-experienced mother needed counsel as she entered into a new season of supporting her husband, not in ministry but in seminary in a vastly different setting than what she had grown to know and love. She helped smooth the transition and poured out her wisdom as the homeschooling adventure was beginning, and life with four children four and under proceeded.

At it again, the magic touch with Malachi as well

And then this visit. When life with small children with big needs seems so constant and overwhelming. When at times you feel as though you are drowning in spills, and laundry, and shrieking, and bickering, and energy, and…did the one-year-old just escape out the front door? And she’s provided a sweet little respite to cherish the newest bundle, to cuddle him and nurse him quietly, and to take an afternoon nap with him upon my chest because neither of us slept the night before.  And her service and hard work has allowed the entrance of this newest life to our family be a joy instead of a daunting “task”.  Her counsel concerning child-rearing reassures me and gives me fresh vision in the journey. She has a big “grandma-ing” job, because, for my children she’s the only one they’ve got. Her presence and love now nurture not only her own son and his mate, but the next generation of Iversons.

I’m so thankful for that list written so many years ago.  It stands as a visible, tangible testimony of the ways God answers prayers beyond what we could even dream of. When that list was written two women were praying for the same man.  A mama’s heart praying for her son’s future helpmate, and a young woman praying for her partner for the journey. And Source of All has woven a beautiful story drawing glory to Himself.

For God, too, has written a “list” of sorts…his great and precious promises.
“For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.” (I Cor. 1:20)

So, in awe of His goodness and faithfulness, I say

“Amen”

to that list scribed by my sixteen-year-old hands.

BECAUSE I can also say

“Amen”

to the promise spoken by Him and worked out by HIS hands.

Ba Ba and (our) five of her 14 grandbabies

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Emily
    May 06, 2012 @ 22:19:25

    Kimberly, this was a beautiful post. Brought tears to my eyes. I met Jonathan and Maggie at REV a couple of years ago and left thinking “I want to meet that woman” because I was so impressed with Jonathan. I have thought many times about emailing her and asking her a million questions about motherhood and life as a missionary wife. Even this week I thought about it. I think I will go ahead and write that email 🙂 I wish she would write a book. I just mentioned your family the other day …the legacy…the generations of faithful Christians. An entire generation of missionaries! As I’m cleaning up evidence of the stomach bug this week with my four little ones, I think about my goal as a mom – grown children serving the Lord – generations giving their lives to him. I pray He uses me to leave that kind of legacy. What a blessing you have in your mother in law! Thank you for sharing!

    Reply

  2. Krissie Jones Patel
    May 07, 2012 @ 10:23:27

    Your writing brings tears to my eyes every time I read it!!! You have so many amazing gifts, but you have such a way to make your reader see and feel like you truly feel. Your “mom” sounds like a remarkable woman! You are truly blessed to have her in your life.

    Miss and love you guys!

    Krissie

    Reply

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