By Lisa Whaley
With the focus on mothers this past Sunday, my mind has, of course, been filled with memories of my own sweet mama and all that she gave to her family. Fortunately, though she is far away from me, I was still able to visit with her via phone and let her know what she means to me.
I am so blessed to have her as my mother.
But this week, I have also been thinking about other women – other mothers – whose love has helped guide me through my life.
I have a mother-in-law whose grace, sweetness and Christian love were evident from the first moment my husband, Tim, brought me home to her, and those qualities have never waned. And I have an Aunt Judy, 95 years young and my mother’s sister, who loves all of us like we were her own.
And those are just two.
But for some reason, the ones who keep coming to mind this week are two lovely ladies from my childhood, Mrs. Burns and Mrs. Burton.
To my 9-year-old eyes, these saints of God seemed very, very old; attired in similar print cotton dresses, sensible shoes and gray hair pulled into a bun. Yet they never acted old, nor were they too aged to take on the antics of several small girls, eager to get together for snacks, conversation and a little godly pursuit.
The ladies called our afterschool group “Girls Missionaries.”
Each week, we would leave school and walk to Mrs. Burns’ little white house at the end of the lane – a house she shared with Mr. Burton, a retired farmer.
I never knew where Mrs. Burton lived; just somewhere “nearby.”
In the Burns’ comfy, cozy living room, we would gather to hand-stitch pieces of quilting together while one of the Mrs. B’s would share a Bible study.
These quilts would eventually adorn the beds of missionaries around the world, and the encouraging words these ladies shared during our sewing still circles inside of my head.
After our lesson, we would hurry into the tiny kitchen to sit at the lone table squeezed into one corner. There, I would taste my first Nutter Butter, a nostalgic favorite to this day, and dig into squares of rich chocolate cake topped with warm chocolate gravy.
Eventually, we girls grew older; chocolate cake; cookies and sewing were less alluring and our little group of missionary girls disbanded. We went onto what we thought were much more age-appropriate pursuits: ball games, young love and even top 40 hits.
And for a long time, the Mrs. B’s were simply sweet older ladies from my childhood – still ancient against the backdrop of my youth; somewhat dull and ordinary, but always kind.
As I have grown older, however, I have come to see these ladies for who they really were and recognize their unique boldness. In our tiny town of 300, these calico-clad ladies in sensible shoes helped four young girls look far beyond our neighborhood streets and understand we could make an impact.
Overall, Mrs. Burns and Mrs. Burton taught us all about faith, commitment and love, and they did it all in much the way a mother guides her young daughters.
This week, remember to hug the Mrs. Burns and Mrs. Burtons in your life. And if you have an opportunity to become a Mrs. B, seize it.
That small seed you plant could yield something amazing.