A few notes about my wife Margaret

Margaret is still with us as I write, so this is not an obit.

I just wanted to express more fully the appreciation of our family for the faithful prayers of countless friends far and wide who have lifted her and us to the Father since Margaret’s massive heart attack last Friday around noon.

WHAT HAPPENED...

Friday morning perhaps around 11 am, Margaret had driven herself to the nail salon for a pedicure.The ladies there say she had just seated herself on the chair when she began coughing. Then, she passed out.

They ran next door to the laundromat and asked for help. Someone called 911. The Harahan police station is a block away, and they responded immediately, followed by the firefighters.  They started CPR, and rushed her to Ochsner’s Hospital, some three miles or so to the east.

The hospital called my house. “Sir, you need to come to the emergency immediately.”  Daughter-in-law Julie had to drive me since we have only the one car.(I was afraid Margaret might have been in an accident. She’s driving very little these days and has been getting around with a walker or cane. But this drive was short and the parking was easy. Still, I was concerned.)

“Your wife went one hour without a heartbeat,” the emergency staff said. “The only oxygen she received was from the compressions in CPR.” The doctor said, “We have no idea how much oxygen her brain received during this time, but it was not enough.”

Thereafter, they did a hundred things to try to save her life and stabilize her.

THAT WAS FRIDAY.  THIS IS MONDAY NIGHT.

Margaret is receiving the best care imaginable. But she is not responding at all that I can tell.  They have eliminated the sedation and returned her body temperature to normal (after initially cooling her down), and she is still unresponsive.  Today they did a second EEG, and we will hear the report of that Tuesday morning.

The hospital staff has all kinds of specialists who work with Margaret and then report to the doctor in charge, who compiles the data, analyzes it all, and then talks to us.

Today we were told, “This is going to take several days, possibly weeks.”  That is so discouraging. Those who have seen their loved one lying there with all kinds of tubes and IVs, their chest heaving, medical people in and out all the time, while we alternate between tears and prayers, talking to family members and medical people and visitors coming and going—well, the continual stress is overwhelming.

I WANTED TO TELL YOU A LITTLE ABOUT MARGARET.

I met Margaret Ann Henderson when she was a high school senior and I was a transfer sophomore at nearby Birmingham-Southern College.  West End Baptist Church (1133 Tuscaloosa Avenue in West End) was her home church. I joined it in September of 1959 and was baptized there.  We sang in the youth choir together.

Now, Margaret was eye-catching, no question about that. But there are plenty of those around. What struck me about her was the day she gave a talk of some kind in Sunday School. She stood before 30 or 40 of us and blew me away. Not only was she wonderful to look at, she was articulate and bright, well-spoken and confident.

It was probably a year before we started dating. (I am one fast worker, huh?)

We married in April of 1962, just after I graduated from college.  She knew I was going to be a preacher, but neither of us had a clue what that meant or where it would take us.  We went into the ministry the same way we married: by faith.

When we began dating, I was surprised to learn that her self-esteem was extremely low. A teacher or two along the way had demolished her confidence by calling her stupid. She was anything but stupid.  When we began pastoring in Greenville, Mississippi, she and friend Pat Odom decided to try college. They drove the 30 miles each day to Mississippi Delta Junior College in Moorhead and took entry level (i.e., easy) courses. Both made A’s, and she was off.

Some years later, Margaret graduated with honors from Mississippi University for Women in Columbus where we were pastoring.  She helped to found a shelter for battered women and later was hired to run it.  She taught women in Sunday School and frequently directed the church’s drama program.  When we pastored in North Carolina, she ran a television camera.

But there was a problem.

Margaret has battled depression much of her adult life.  Sometimes it was severe, other times not so much.  She has had wonderful counselors and Christian psychiatrists, and was hospitalized a couple of times.

One result of all this is that in the last 10 or 15 years, she has lost a lot of memory.  Sometimes, when I’m back in a church we once pastored, women will ask about her. “Oh, I used to be in her class. She was the most wonderful teacher.  I’ll never forget the time she…” and they will tell me something she said or did.

I’ll tell Margaret when I get home, but she remembers none of it.

Because of her health issues, she almost never accompanies me when I go to speak in churches. When pastors say, “And will your wife be with you?” I just say, “No, she’s heard me” and let it go at that.

During our earlier pastorates, Margaret reached out to young pastors’ wives to encourage them.  Once she discovered that they battled the same feelings of helplessness and inadequacies that she did, she was able to connect with them and make a real difference for several.  (To this day, I urge pastors’ wives to reach out to one another. Something inside them wants to believe that the others have their act together, that “you alone” are the only one having trouble with the demanding church, the overworked pastor, the expectations on you, the needs of your children, and the tiny budget. But when the wives reach out to one another, God does some amazing things.)

Margaret remembers none of these things.

In our last pastorate, First Baptist Church of Kenner, where we presently belong, she and I team-taught the auditorium Bible class. Eighty to a hundred people would sit across the auditorium while she and I sat on stools at the front before two microphones. People would say, “Brother Joe will tell you what the Hebrew says, but Miss Margaret will tell you what it means on Tuesday.”

She was a wonderful Bible teacher.

But you can’t prove it by her.

She remembers none of it.

But here’s the thing…

It’s not necessary for my wife to remember all the people she taught, the pastors’ wives she encouraged, the churches she blessed, or (ahem) the sermons she wrote.

God remembers.

“God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love that you have shown to His Name in having ministered to the saints and in still ministering” (Hebrews 6:10).

God remembers.  And when Margaret gets to heaven–whether it’s this week or 10 years from now–she will be so surprised to learn that the Father has kept every tear of hers in His bottle, that all the pain she endured trying to find her way to serving Him and dealing with this impossible husband of hers, it was all precious to Him and her rewards are enormous.

She will find that out. And no one will be more surprised than she.

She has no clue how much she has meant to so many along the way, the difference she has made for Jesus’ sake.

I think of her lying in that hospital bed and my heart breaks.  Today when no one else was there, I stood by the bed and held her hand and sang hymns to her in between my tears.  And I gave her to the Lord once again.

When my grandmother Bessie McKeever was lying in the Birmingham-Princeton hospital at death’s door, I drove several hours to get there.  Her large family filled the room, and yet when I walked in the door, she spotted me. She held out two hands, just wide enough for me to place my face there. She kissed me on the cheek. I said, “Grandma, I know you have a scripture on your heart today. Tell me what it is.”

In that tiny little voice, just hours before crossing over to the other side, she whispered, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

I almost laughed out loud at the wonderful absurdity of that.  She has dwindled away to a shadow of her former robust self. She cannot do anything. And yet, she can do “all things” through Christ.

But she could. Make no mistake about that.

At that moment, the only thing the Lord Jesus wanted Grandma Bessie to do was to lie back in His arms and let Him take her to Heaven.

And she did that so beautifully.

Soon, my beloved wife of nearly 53 years, she who is my heart, will be doing that.  It saddens me more than I can express.  And yet, as I used to try to say to my mama after Pop left us in 2007 and she would say how much she missed him, “It won’t be long.” And it wasn’t. In 2012, she joined him at the throne.

And so shall we ever be with the Lord.

For this mortal must put on immortality. This corruption must put on incorruption. This humble must put on the glorious.

Blessed be the name of the Lord.

112 thoughts on “A few notes about my wife Margaret

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this or us who do not really know you. I only became acquainted with your through your cartoons on Facebook and decided to follow you. I now have your cartoon book and have shared with many folks. I have shared a message that will be in your Other section of Facebook.

  2. Oh, Joe, my heart is breaking for you. What a wonderful tribute. So blessed to call you both friend. Will continue praying for all of you.

  3. Dr.Joe, I send prayers your way. And thank you and Margaret for your time at FBC Columbus and the influence on all the youth and members while you were there and the short time I knew you there. As adults we are still influenced.

  4. This is truly one of the most beautiful tributes I’ve ever read. May the God of this universe hold her and all of you tightly and comfort your hurting hearts.

  5. Brother Joe, God has blessed you with so much and I feel that The Lord has blessed me abundantly by simply knowing you! To me you are everything that a Christ follower should be . . . Your words lift others up and your actions speak volumes of the Lord’s work. Just last week my daughter and I were looking through my son’s, Christopher, box of memories and inside were several cartoons made for me while in the hospital. Brother Joe, you are in our hearts and in our prayers! Thank you for opening your heart to us as you walk through this stressful time. I’m just glad to know that God is by your side, holding your hand just as you held mine.

  6. Joe, clearly words from others, especially those of us whom you don’t know well or at all, will not do a lot to strengthen and encourage you, but hopefully knowing there are thousands praying for you and your family will help sustain you during such times.

    Your account was such a blessing. Jo Ann and I celebrate our 56th anniversary this coming Thursday, and the past year or two I have thought often of what it will be like when she is taken home (I have asked the Lord for her to go ahead of me so she doesn’t have to bear the burden of widowhood).

    When my Mother died after 67 years of marriage in 2000, I was at her beside with Dad, a retired pastor. She was cognizant and very objective right up to when she received pain medication for her final stages of congestive heart failure. She and Dad held hands and she said, “I’ll see you in the morning.”

    Should the Lord take your sweet wife on ahead of you, consider it to be a blessing for her, though a heart-wrenching burden for you. I’m sure if she had a chance, she’d say what my Mother said to Dad . . . “I’ll see you in the morning.

    Be comforted and encouraged, my brother. How sweet to know the future is glorious for us all, even though there are many painful valleys to cross and rugged pathways to walk.

    In His Bond,

    Bob

  7. What a beautiful tribute! There is a special place in heaven for Southern Baptist pastors’ wives, I think; and if there isn’t there should be. Prayers for your family during this difficult time.

  8. Brother Joe, Beverly and I love you and are praying alongside of you!

    All things work for our good
    Though sometimes we don’t
    See how they could
    Struggles that break our hearts in two
    Sometimes blind us to the truth
    Our Father knows what’s best for us
    His ways are not our own
    So when your pathway grows dim
    And you just don’t see him,
    Remember your never alone

    God is too wise to be mistaken
    God is too good to be unkind
    So when you don’t understand
    When don’t see his plan
    When you can’t trace his hand
    Trust His Heart

    He sees the master plan
    He holds the future in his hand,
    So don’t live as those who have no hope,
    ALL our hope is found in him.
    We see the present clearly
    He sees the first and last
    And like a tapestry He’s weaving you and me,
    To someday be just like him

    God is too wise to be mistaken
    God is too good to be unkind
    So when you don’t understand
    When don’t see his plan
    When you can’t trace his hand
    Trust His Heart

    He alone is faithful and true
    He alone knows what is best for you

    God is too wise to be mistaken
    God is too good to be unkind
    So when you don’t understand
    When don’t see his plan
    When you can’t trace his hand
    Trust His Heart

    When you can’t trace his hand
    When you don’t see his plan
    When you don’t understand
    Trust His Heart

  9. Bro Joe I remember listening to you and your precious wife Margaret when you came to FBCK when the committee brought you in to speak , I loved what Ms Margaret said , don’t expect me to be like most pastors wives and she was so honest and I really admired her for that 🙂 and I often thought about her through the years of some of her struggles, God knows depression has been a huge part of my life in one way or another.
    I also wanted to thank you for being there for some very important times in my family some very sad and some very good. Love you Bro Joe and Ms Margaret y’all are in my thoughts and prayers past present and future

  10. Thank you Brother Joe. This has blessed me so much. Margaret and I had so much in common. I was with my precious little Mother in love when she was told that she had Cancer. She quoted 2 Timothy 1:12 (KJV)
    For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.
    When my own beloved Mama who was in severe pain stood up, She looked up with a radiant smile and simple said, “Jesus be Merciful”. It is different when we know they have gone to their reward. Please know that I continue to pray for your Beloved.

    • Dear Joe,
      I’m so glad I turned on Facebook today. You and Margaret got married about the same time I did. I got married in March. I had my first child in 1963 and you and Margaret came to see me at my mother’s house. I regret that I did not keep in touch with ya’ll. I, too, had bouts of depression and a couple of hospitalization. I was able to get the help I needed. I now live in an elderly apartment building. Presently, I am not teaching anywhere, except by the life I lead. I fall short, but God has been good to me. I have a wonderful family and they all serve the Lord. May God bless you and your ministry abundantly.

  11. Joe…. Those words were like a fresh visit with dear Margaret. I have always admired her genuinely fir her kindness, gentle spirit, winning smile and devotion to you and your family. She truly is in God’s loving grasp nommatter whether in the ICU or in our eternal home. And we shall see her again as we behold His Face. I love you and Margaret and your special place in my journey.

  12. And I remember that Youth Choir…and pretty Margaret…and those first dates. We double dated sometimes…through the years I have admired the both of you…prayers for your family continue…

  13. Thank you for sharing about Margaret. For those of us who did not know her as well, this is a moving testimony of her life and work. May God fill you and your family with his grace and mercy and do his wonderful work in her life.

  14. Joe,
    Panda and I were both in tears reading your kind words as you speak of Margaret. You know, my mother’s name was Margaret, she went to be with the Lord in 2008. There’s something special about Margaret! Your love for your lovely wife is amazing.

  15. i read this with tears in my eyes…thank you for continuing to share with such grace the depth of your love and transparency in your pain. I remember how excited Margaret was to teach Experiencing God.. It was my first time I took her class. She was a great teacher and her enthusiasm was contagious. For some “strange” reason she so connected with Jim.. I guess she got his quirky humor. They just hit it off! Again you both mean the world to Jim and I and our family. May the Lord continue to be an ever present help in this time of sadness. Praying without ceasing.. Gail

  16. Our hearts are broken for you and your family Joe. Rejoicing that Ms. Margaret will soon be with our Lord, but so sad for the heartbreak you all will experience. Thankful that we do not sorrow without hope. Thank you so much for your teaching and ministry to our family. Our love and prayers are with you.

  17. Thanks for sharing! I’m Amanda I checked Mrs. Margaret into her therapy appt about a month ago In Elmwood. Before you all left you came up to the desk and drew my picture! I was elated. Ive been following you on Facebook ever since that day. I was sadden about the news last Friday. I hope she pull through and I’ll continue to lift you all up in prayer.

  18. I have thought of you both continuously today and have prayed repeatedly. My heart is with you and your precious wife. Even little Claire prayed out loud for you both tonight.

  19. Wow! That was beautiful. God has given you the gift of writing. I envy those that are able to express themselves through words as you have most eloquently done. May God Bless you as you seek His will during this most heart wrenching time of your life.

  20. Thank you for sharing your heart at such a time in your life. What a tribute to your wife. May God bless you and your family.

  21. As I read the sadness expressed in your words about your dear Margaret, I rejoice that you and your family have the assurance that she will be whole and well in the arms of Jesus. My dad went home in 2007 and my granddaughter says that he is a greeter at the gate. And I believe her, so my dad Allen Jerome Agent, will greet Mrs. Margaret McKeever at the gates of heaven and give her a mighty hug….our prayers are with you and your family.

  22. I have wonderful memories of you and Margaret. I went to MS Delta Junior College when Margaret was there. I often caught a ride home with Margaret and Pat. (I was 19.) The day I met my husband, Charlie, zMargaret said, Oh Debbie, he is the one. He is the one I have been praying God would send you. She was right. Charlie and I have been married 43 years. You and Margaret were my pastor and Mrs. Pastor through my teen years. I learned so much from both of you. I also think my mom was a mentor to Margaret during her early young preacher’s wife days. They drank a lot of coffee and talked a lot. Of course, you and dad tried to one up each other with your crazy jokes. You were loved dearly at Emmanuel Batist Church in Greenville. By the way I have a beautiful picture of you and Margaret at our wedding. Remember you married Charlie and me. :):):):) God bless! May God comfort you and heal Margaret. Praying for Jesus to work this out according His plan.

  23. Bro Joe…my prayers are with you as you deal with this present darkness….but through your words about your wife and the love and respect that you have for her…I see light…everlasting light…thanks for allowing all of your followers to know and understand the best we can what you and your children are going through…we serve an awesome God.

  24. Sending prayers for the life you two have shared in doing God’s work. You shared your heart with us all. I pray for you both and the family. God’s plan works for the good of all. May healing for her heart and memory be touched by God. I ask these things in Jesus mighty name. AmenAmen.

  25. Beautifully written….. My heart aches for you and your family. You have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember and there for some of the most important moments of my life (our wedding day) and I am so thankful for that. Yall are in my thoughts and prayers daily. Love yall.

  26. My heart aches and breaks for you, Brother Joe, as I continue to pray for you, Margaret, and your family and you travel through this difficult time. God bless all of you.

  27. Dr. McKeever, you will not know me but you touched my life many years ago. While attending MUW in Columbus, I would come to FBC and quite often my Miss State boyfriend (now my wonderful husband of 35 years) would come and attend with me. We both were blessed to sit under your teaching long ago. And we have kept you on our radar through our dear friends Gina and David Cole who we knew from years at FBC Slidell. We are now in Scottsdale AZ and I was sad to see the news about your wife. We are praying for your family as you walk through the valley of the shadow of death. We walked this valley 3 yrs ago with my precious mom after a massive stroke. What tender time to journey with your loved one until Jesus takes her hand and brings her home to Him. Even tho you don’t know who I am, after reading your sweet note I felt I needed to let you know we are among those unknown to you who are lifting you up. How beautifully you expressed about your lovely Margaret. Thank you for sharing your heart. We will continue to pray for you and your family.
    Sincerely, Peggy Whitmire

  28. Your lovely tribute to your wife touched my heart tonight. I don’t know you personally, but I have enjoyed your writing and cartoons over the years. I just want you to know that your wife, you, and your entire family are in my thoughts and prayers. I am praying for you all to have healing, strength, and peace, and for God’s perfect will to be done.

    May The Lord bless you and keep you, and cause His face to shine upon you.

  29. Dear Joe,

    I continue to share with friends to be praying for Margaret and all of your family during these days. Thank you for being so transparent with your life. All of us have much to learn from your example as a couple that has served the Lord so faithfully.

  30. I realize that nothing we can say right now will be able to take away the pain of what is taking place before your eyes. She obviously has been a tremendous blessing to so many and an anchor of support in your amazing ministry. Pretty lady and precious friend. What a wonderful tribute to your sweet wife. We continue to pray for you and your family. Blessings to you!

  31. Brother Joe, thank you for your ministry to our Lord…and receiving me as a member at FBC Jackson 40 yrs ago. I pray God will comfort you…as only He can during this time of waiting for Margaret to go home. I never knew her but she sounds like an angel.

  32. Joe, what sweet memories. We did have a special bond in that youth choir – seems such a brief time ago. Looking at your recent pictures Margaret looks much the same beautiful girl she was in high school. A real joy to see her looking so well.

    My heart aches for you. Jon and I married in October of 1962 and have shared many happy and not so happy times in ministry and personal life, if it can ever be separated. Now as we face the future with his illness it seems that God has made the really good memories more prominent. Hope it is that way with you as well.

    Keep writing memories. I would love to read more and it might be healing for you. Please know that I love you and Margaret very much and pray without ceasing for God to provide what each of you need, as He alone can.

  33. The most beautiful, raw and heartfelt piece you’ve ever written. My prayers for you both continue . . . God is my refuge & strength.

  34. Thank you for sharing about your Margaret. I, along with the people of First Baptist Church, Choudrant, Louisiana, will be praying with you and for you and Margaret.

  35. Brother Joe, I have walked where you are walking now so I can relate to your feelings. In 1984 my wife Debbie succumbed to cancer after 18 years of marriage. We had 2 teenage children and she, like your Margaret was a wonderful preacher’s wife and a great teacher. My whole life seemed to be crashing in on me and I didn’t know how I would make it without her. But God in his grace and love gave me the assurance and confidence to keep putting one foot in front of the other and with His strength I was able to continue on. It wasn’t easy for me but it caused me to rely more on Jesus than at any other time in my life. God is able to pick up the broken pieces and make something beautiful from them. Your sweet wife is in the hands of our Savior now and if He chooses to take her on home be thankful for the 54 years you had her. If He chooses to raise her up you will be able to love her with a deeper love than ever before. May God wrap His loving arms around you and your family at this time and give you peace.

  36. Joe,

    We wish we could take a piece of the burden you must be facing right now as you sit with Margaret, the love of your life. But, the best we can do is pray and send love along with our thoughts.

    Thank you for spreading joy and cheer to countless souls over the years with a smile and a caricature or by opening your home to ones you hardly might have known. Thank you for your devotion to your wife, your family, your church, and the Kingdom. Especially, thank you for presenting a Christ-like example to those around you, so that some might know the One you follow. So, Joe . . . we’re sending thankful thoughts to you and to Margaret, wrapping them in love, as we voice our prayers for healing and comfort to the Father.

    May Jesus bear the burden with you . . .

    John, Kelly, Caleb, and Micah

  37. Tears filled my eyes as I read your precious love story about your wife. I pray to be the kind of wife Fred can admire like you do Mrs Margaret. You continue to be such a blessing. Thank you for allowing God to continue to use you during this trying time. We love you so much. Prayers for you all everyday!

  38. Reverend Joe, you don’t know me but Wayne Bristow does. I just wanted you to know how much your beautiful words about your lovely wife touched my heart. You will be in my prayers!

  39. Oh dear Pastor Joe…words fail. Yours don’t. These are beautiful. I think what I love most is that you write about her humanity. Many can relate to those same struggles, and what a tribute to read about her marriage and faith in the midst of her own trials. Prayers for you and your family.

  40. Thanks for sharing your heart so eloquently ! I was exposed to the road you are traveling when my wife Nelda had a cardiac arrest last June. God graciously allowed her to stay with me!
    She was hospitalized 50 days and in rehab for 70 days. I know the emotional gut wrenching days of despondency and also the joy of knowing the masses of folks world-wide were lifting us up to our Heavenly Father!
    Know that Nelda and I along with many from the Free Will Baptist denomination are praying for you!!

  41. Bro Mckeever ,my prayers are for your family tonight. I am also sitting with my beloved husband at ochsner praying for his life. I’ve heard you preach many times so to read your sentiments about your dear wife encourage me inside and remind me of our Fathers presence even in this. God bless you and yours especially tonight

  42. Oh, Bro. Joe, what a loving, wonderful testimony of precious Margaret. I wish I had known her, but actually I do feel as if I know her now because of your gift for writing and your willingness to share what an outstanding lady Margaret is. I can see why she is so loved; how easy it would be to love her. My heart and tears are with you all; I wish I could fix this situation, but only God can, and He will fix it the best it can be fixed. Love in Jesus with prayers.
    P.S. What years was Margaret enrolled at MDCC? I taught in the Business Dept. from 1967-1971; it would thrill my heart if I may had known her or crossed paths with her!

  43. My memory of Ms Margaret is the week she spent with me in Eunice, do you remember this Bro. Joe. I was a new Christian and could not believe I was to become one of Margaret’s best friends. I was always nervous about praying out loud, and she told me just talk to God like you are talking to me. Wow I love this lady, I am in England right now with Liz who is terminally ill, Margaret has prayed for her many times. My thoughts and prayers are with you all. Love Sheila xxx

  44. Thank you for the privilege of peering into the window of your heart at this very prrsonal time. Your abundant love for your Lord and your precious Margaret inspire and move us again, just as much as one of those Sunday classes.

  45. Amazing. Your words, Joe, showcase Margaret’s life so beautifully. I’ve never had the blessing of meeting her or knowing, so I am grateful for an eternity with her where I’m sure to have time to do so. Thank you for sharing all the special nuances of her life…her struggles and her joys. Praying still for you all.

  46. Dear “Dr. Joe”…..as you have described her, I remember Margaret. She was a mentor and blessing to me in those early days of my being a minister’s wife. My heart is full of special memories of both of you. Thank you for your tribute.

  47. Joe, Romans 13:7 instructs us to “give honor to whom honor is due.” I am so glad you honored Margaret with this tribute and allowed us to share in it. God bless you!

  48. Joe, I have often thought your Margaret must be one special lady and now I know she is. I cherish the memories of ladies who encouraged me when I was a young pastor’s wife in my first marriage. I just read your words to my dear husband Ronnie who said goodbye to the love of his life when she was just 41 year old. He understands your heart far better than I. In the depth of your valley you are ministering through your solid trust in our risen Lord. Thank you! We continually lift you, Margaret, the medical staff and your family to the Father. It is apparent His steadfast love is carrying you.

  49. I am just amazed at a difficult time you still find words to encourage so many yet dealing with challenges. You sir will make it just because. All of us join with you through this journey that we have yet to travel. What a tribute to such a grand lady. I never got a chance to meet Ms. Margaret, but I knew she had to be special because of you. Love to you and the family.

  50. My tears are flowing with you precious, Dr. Joe. May God richly bless and comfort you and your family. He has known the plans he has had for Margaret, plans for good and not evil. She has a future and a hope, as you said, on this side or over there. He is a healer yet, and Father, so that we do err in having not because we ask not, Lord, I ask you for her healing, for her return to her earthly family, more well and strong than she has ever been, if it would be your will. We thank you in advance for your answer whatever it is. Thank you for Bro Joe and all he has meant to so many. Bless him, Margaret and their whole family. Give your special attention to the children. It is hard on them when things happen to Grandma. Let them turn their hearts and eyes to you. Be glorified in them, Oh Lord. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

  51. I feel like I have been to church and heard the most wonderful sermon! Thank you for sharing. Heaven is full of prayers for you, Margaret & your family ! Isn’t it wonderful to know God has it all in His hands! Thank you Bro Joe.

  52. Dear Joe and family,
    Your words are so encouraging to those of us who haven’t traveled this road with our spouse. Thank you for sharing from the deepest part of your heart about Margaret. God has given you a special talent with those words. May He continue to bless and comfort all of you. We have been down this road(death) with 3 family members from last March to October. Just let the tears and laughter come because Margaret would have wanted that. Thank you for blessing all of us over the years.

  53. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16 ESV

    Thanks for taking the time to share Margaret with us. You and your family are never far from my thoughts and always in my prayers.

    ~ Carolyn

  54. This has got to be one of the most touching tributes to anyone that I have ever read or heard. There is no question as to the deep love you have toward your wife of so many years, of how significant she was to who you are today. I pray for the peace of the Lord Jesus upon you and your family during this time.

  55. Prayers for you and your family, Joe. May the God of all comfort be with you and your family. Praise God we can say, “It is just death.” Christ is risen, and if she goes to be with the Father, so will she be.

  56. Joe, you had me sobbing with that piece, I suppose because I lost my mother and mother in law that way, and because I am married to a longsuffering pastor’s wife. I am praying for you and thinking of times you would come back to Birmingham Southern and draw caricatures and preach and even swiggling our old house. Thanks you for your ministry to this young buck and thousands of others.
    Steve Hollaway, Harbor Church, Block Island RI.

  57. Joe,

    My eyes are full of tears for you and the pain of these moments. You and Margaret have had an amazing life of marriage, parenting and ministry. I have no words for you, just the desire to stand with you and support you in any way that I am able.

    Much love and the peace of our Lord to you,

    Ben Crawford

  58. I wept as I read your account of life with Margaret. Please know both of
    you are in our prayers that God might move and you might find strength
    and courage in such a difficult time. With deepest respect, Dave.

  59. Bro. Joe, after Katrina, our Association, Chilton Baptist Association, sent monies to your Association to assist with clean-up/recovery. My husband, Larry, is the DOM here. I would read, with interest, whenever I saw your name on something. Today, you have touched hearts. The love between a man and a woman is hard to describe, but today, you describe what God intended a marriage to be. In all the darkness and turmoil of the world, you have clearly shown to us God’s light. He is shining now on you as you travel a very lonely road. Please know that Larry and I are praying for you and for your family. May you feel the presence of our Heavenly Father even now and in the days ahead.

  60. Bro. Joe, I was 12 years old the first time I heard one of your sermons at FBC Columbus. I remember Mrs. Margaret so very well. What a wonderful woman of God. Your tribute to her is absolutely beautiful. My prayers go out to you, your family, the medical staff and especially Mrs. Margaret. May God give you peace and comfort during these days.

  61. Joe,,,,,,,,never acquainted with Ms Margaret but now as I read this ……well wish I had. She sounds like a really wonderful lady that would be a good friend! God be with y’all “& oh the love of God”. Nothing can compare.

  62. What a beautiful piece you have written. I have never met you or your wife but after reading this I wish we had met. Praying for you and your lovely wife. May God be with you.

  63. A special tribute to an amazing woman. Prayers for as you travel this journey. God gave me a scripture that helped me when I lost my mother. Isaiah 43:2. Blessings on your whole family.

  64. Thank you for sharing your family so unselfishly through the years. Prayers all around my friend. I love YOU all and grateful to our Great and Supreme God for every thought and moment I have had with you and Margaret.

  65. Dr. McKeever,

    Thank you for sharing the story of your love with us. I am in tears, and our prayers are with you both. I am blessed by reading this, and I thank you for continuing to bless others as you are navigating an unimaginably difficult time. I’m confident that your wife and our Lord are pleased with your grace in trouble.

  66. Dear Joe, although I thought I “knew” Margaret as the “1st Lady” of FBC Columbus, I didn’t really know her. She was Neil’s, Marty’s and Jinoke’s mom, but as a high school, college and seminary student, I never had the opportunity to sit under her teaching, and for that, I’m sad. However, as a wife, I know that you would not have been able to be used by Holy God and have impacted so many churches and lives had she not been your partner. You are a perfect team. And, as you beautifully said, whether Holy God takes her this week or years from now, you are the man of God due in large part to the woman who stood with you.

    May our Heavenly Father’s will be done, and may He continue to receive the glory in Margaret’s life. Amen.

  67. After hearing, and seeing, how wonderful Ms Margaret was, I can only wish I would’ve known her. She is an extraordinary woman! Your words brought tears to my eyes: tears of heartbreak, tears for the love you shared, tears for her joy that is yet to come. My prayers are with you and her…God bless you and give you peace.

  68. I met Margaret while Victor pastored in Columbus. I attended Pastors Wives meetings with her. We had some good times there,
    praying for all of you !!!!

  69. Dr. Joe, I remember meeting you at the Senior Living Celebrations when you came to Kentucky to speak for the week. During that week, I felt as if I had met Mrs. Margaret because you spoke so lovingly about her, and I could see the love in your eyes. So I am praying for your bride, trusting God to work as only He can. Thank you for being such a witness for the love of God and your bride to me. You will never know how God has used you in my ministry. Blessings, brother….friend.

  70. I know that you really do not know me, but that really doesn’t matter. We are brothers in Christ. My heart aches for you and your family. I am praying for you and them. Not really knowing what to ask other than for our GOD to strengthen and confort you in this curve in the road. I weep with you as you stand and sit with the lady whom God has brought into your life to be your help-meet.

  71. Dr. Joe,

    I’ve always appreciated your cartoon caricatures and the messages they gave. But I really don’t believe many know about your gift of writing. As I have had minister opportunities with you in the past, I have not had the privilege of actually getting to know Mrs. Margaret but I feel like I’ve known her as long as I’ve been acquainted with you. Know that we are praying for Mrs. Margaret’s recovery and we will leave it in His hands. Praying for the Joe & Margaret McKeever family.

    Love,

    John & Cathy Taylor

  72. As I read this tribute through streaming tears I remember the beautiful, talented and loving Margaret. You were my pastor and she, my pastors wife in Columbus, Ms many years ago. You touched my life then and continue to do so through your posts.
    Thank you BOTH for giving to the Lord.

  73. Our daughter, Martha, directed us to your post. We remember you and your family so fondly from our Columbus days, and many of my notes in my Bible are from your Bible lessons. You and Margaret have had a rich impact on the lives of many people. Thank you for sharing, although it is a sad time right now, “Soon and very Soon”…. May you and your family feel God’s sure love, peace and comfort.
    Letty Ann and Don Schiesz

  74. Joe, my thoughts and prayers go out to Margaret, you, and the family. As a result of your loving, touching, beautiful tribute to Margaret, you received many touching tributes yourself, which must be uplifting to you at this time, knowing the loving concern of multitudes of people that you know, and others you don’t . Even those who never met Margaret, feel a close connection with her through your many comments and stories…. some extolling her and some humorous…..all loving!!!
    She and I became “late bloomer” college friends at MUW. We were also part of a small group planning the development of a shelter for battered women, where she was a born leader! After graduation she became the Director, and won the gratitude of scores of abused women, who were able to restart their lives through her caretaking and counseling.
    I pray for God’s comforting arms to hold each of you.

  75. My precious Man of God how I love you. Ms. Margaret would feel so special if she could read your tribute. Maybe God will read it to her. Thank you for sharing with all of us. You have part of my heart with you! Will never forget you coming to Caden’s baptism and officiating along side the priest! It helped me so. Now Sam and Caden are both in Sunday School at FBK every other Sunday and Sam is going to Centri-kid camp this year. God has a plan for them despite tragedy in their family. God has us all in His Control. How awesome is that!!!

  76. I remember you and Mrs. Margaret from Emmanuel in Greenville. I am JoAnn Fox’s youngest daughter. Your tribute is so sweet and I know Mrs. Margaret knows your heart. You are in my prayers. May God wrap His loving arms around you both. Lean on Him.

  77. Thank you, Joe and Margaret, for giving of yourselves to our family for more than 40 years. (Y’all started very young!)
    i pray that each one of your family members will sense the everlasting arms of our GOD-of-all-comfort as HE carries you through these hours; and that HE will continue to make Himself famous through HIS faithfulness to you in these sacred moments at Margaret’s bedside. GOD’s not finished yet: Only HE knows what more-than-we-can-imagine great stuff HE has in store for y’all.
    And, Joe – Margaret and JESUS love it when you sing to them!

  78. Dear Joe, I thank our Lord for every remembrance of you and Margaret. I write through tears. I feel your pain. No doubt, It won’t be long before many of us who reply lovingly to you will join your suffering with our own. These old bodies were not made to last. Sunset is followed by sunrise! but it still hurts now. Peace, love, grace, mercy, comfort and strength to you, your precious Margaret, your family and to all of us who wait upon the Lord!

  79. In your pain and sorrow God has used you to reach others suffering too, just like He has always used your wife. There is release sometimes in knowing our pain helps others. You are continuing her legacy and I know she is so proud. May God bless and keep you both.

  80. In the clipping book of my late mother, I remember, and you must have heard—
    The pastor asked the lady in the nursing home what she did all day. She replied
    When I wake up, I get my hymnal and sing hymns to the Lord.
    When my voice gives out and I can no longer sing, I get my Bible and read God’s word.
    When my eyes give out and I can no longer sing, I just lie in bed and let the Lord love me.
    Margaret had done the first steps for years and is now at the third activity, being loved by the Lord, family, and so many of us fiends who knew and still love her.
    May the Lord bless you all. I love you all.

  81. I have only recently “found” your blogs Joe, and clearly you have a real heart for the Lord and His people. Learning about Margaret has brought this pastor to the throne room to intercede for a brother and his beloved wife thousands of miles away. I continue to pray for you both and know that the Lord will be with you – so very near you as you walk this path. Our love and prayers are with you.

  82. Joe,
    Thank you for sharing such a beautiful, loving tribute to your Margaret. Please know that my thoughts and prayers are with Margaret, you, and your family.

  83. Joe, what a powerful tribute to Margaret. We are praying Margaret and for you and the family. None of know what is ahead of us but those of us that know Jesus know Who is leading the way. God bless you.

  84. I was doing research for a church related issue and came across something you wrote. I was impressed by the article….. So I wanted to see if there was something more about the man. That lead me to your blog about your wife.
    I just want you and your family know that we are lifting Margaret and your whole family up in prayer.

  85. Joe,

    I am so sorry to hear about Margaret …..such a good looking women. May God wrap his arms around you and the family.

    I have one of your original cartoon in my office and look at it every day and think about you and Margaret..you all are one of my favorite people. The caption on the cartoon, which is so true as I play golf in my old age..”He doesn’t know softball..But we learn a lot about life by his arguments with the umpire!”

    One of your best fans.

  86. I don’t know you, pastor, but your writing about Margaret is so precious and inspiring. Thank you for sharing her life’s work …. a bit about her service to the Lord as a pastor’s wife! I pray for God’s mercy and healing as you live out these days. May the Lord comfort you and bless you.

  87. I feel like I know your wife after reading your article. How wonderful to have had a wife like her. Certainly appreciate your writing ministry to all of us and I pray our Lord will fill the vacancy you are now experiencing. Keep blessing us with your articles on faith, the church, the bible and all other subjects that come to your mind. Thank you again. Love you in our Lord.

  88. Bro. Joe I have read your updates on Margaret. My heart reaches out to you as a person who has also lost my dear Margaret, my love , my life just as your Margaret was to you. God walked with me each step that was taken on my journey with my wife. I can tell you with all honesty , he will be there for you each step you take in this next phase of your life. He will guide you as he has the 48 years I have known you. Dot and Snooks and all the group from Greenville, MS that preceded Margaret to Heaven were there to meet your sweet wife as she stepped through Heavens portal. Can you just imagine what a Homecoming that was. Right in front of the group was my dear Mama waiting to welcome yor Margaret home with a great big and a welcome home. Mama loved your wife just if she was part of our family. Keeping you and your family in my prayers daily.

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