Blessed By His Mama

Someone pointed out to me once that most preachers were blessed by their mothers, rather than by their fathers.

I’ve not done a George-Barna and looked into that theory, but my observation is that it’s accurate.

Billy Graham and I (ahem!) were blessed by our mothers. When I pastored in Charlotte twenty years ago, people still reminisced about the elder Mrs. Graham who taught Bible studies in the retirement home where she spent her last days and what a Godly influence she was.

In my case, it was my mother whose spiritual example and godly influence turned me in the direction of living for the Lord.

A few remembrances….


Mom sang alto in the church choir and happily joined any quartet forming in our church. When we joined that little Methodist church near Beckley, West Virginia, soon she and three others had a quartet going.

She had a difficult life in those years. Maya Angelou’s bio is titled “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.” I’m guessing Mom knows, too.


Mom took all six of us children to church, long before Dad gave her the first encouragement in that direction. How difficult it must have been to get the children bathed on Saturday night–there were six of us, born within a nine-year span!–so we could get to Sunday School and church on time. And we walked, too. A mile there and a mile back.

If any mother ever had an excuse to say, “I don’t think we’ll go today,” it was Lois McKeever. But she didn’t. (And do we need to point out that it snows in the winter in West Virginia?!)


She was born Lois Jane Kilgore in the farmhouse just on the next ridge from our present home, some five miles outside Nauvoo, Alabama. (Her father built the house; it stands today, empty since Granny Kilgore went to Heaven in 1963.) With the exception of the four years we lived in West Virginia (1947-51), she has not lived anywhere on the planet outside a five mile radius of her birthplace. And yet….

The first Sunday after our arrival in that West Virginia mining camp, she marched the six of us off that mountainside and sat us in church. Our ages were 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, and 12. Think of that! And this was not a church of her denomination either. She had been raised Free Will Baptist.

Mom remembers that when we started going to that church, almost no children were attending. But as we invited our friends, soon the place was running over with the good noise of happy children. Happy, undisciplined children, no doubt.


Dad bought my first Bible–nothing about any of this should imply he was not happy with my spiritual development; he simply had very little to do with it–but it was Mom who encouraged me to read it. She heard my reports on those Saturday mornings when I came downstairs to report that, “This morning I read 73 verses!” And bragged on me.


I do not explain this, just report it. As a third-fourth-fifth grader, I would sometimes walk the quarter-mile from school to have lunch with mom. She would make me a sandwich and while she worked–she was forever working!– we would listen to a preacher broadcasting from the nearby town of Oak Hill. His name was Mont Carr and I can still hear his voice.


Neither of our parents grew up in a touchy-feely family so there wasn’t a lot of hugging in our home. Not nearly enough, we now realize, and the whippings Dad administered were overly done. But there was an abundance of love. Our parents loved each other and were always there for their children. Dad would work double shifts in the coal mines at times to provide for his large family.

Mom never ever pulled against Dad. She always looked to him as the head of the house, even when there were gaps in his example and failures in his leadership. They stood together and their children knew it.

The six of us grew into adulthood admiring and smiling at the way our parents loved each other. Mom would blush when Pop pulled her to his lap and made a jest about kissing her in front of us. He teased her and bragged on her and she loved it.

Their marriage grew better the older they became. They became tenderer and sweeter toward each other. Every day, dad would tell her he loved her. He would tease, “My rib is the best bone in my body.”

Recently on this blog, I printed the Christmas newsletter from my wife’s sister Susan, as she reminisced about her husband Jim who had just gone to Heaven. My mom read that and commented that this is her first Christmas without our dad.

My sisters reminded her that Pop has been gone since November of 2007, and this is her third Christmas without him. “No,” she insists. “This is the first one.”

Mom is in her 94th year now. She married Carl J. McKeever when she was 17 and he was 21. She can be forgiven for feeling that the separation from him is fresh and recent. It is to her, and will be short-lived, if I’m any judge.

“Her children rise up and bless her. Her husband also.” (Proverbs 31)

Thank you, Mom.

And thank you, Lord, for such a mother. I am indeed blessed.

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