“Iron sharpens iron, so one man (woman) sharpens another.”Proverbs 27:17
If you would have told me that a slender energetic woman in her late fifties with a shock of short white hair going in every direction, large rimmed glasses with a determined look behind them, carrying an open can of Diet Pepsi in one hand and an oversized white satin purse over her other arm, wearing summer white pants and a colorful blouse was slated to be my Spiritual Mom, I would have laughed out loud! Doris Gleason entered my life in a most innocent and unexpected way as she bounded into the Pastor’s office of West Memorial Baptist Church one hot August morning in 1980. She had heard that as the new Pastor’s secretary, I was asked to plan a women’s retreat that fall and was looking for a keynote speaker.
“Hi! My name is Doris Gleason and I hear you’re planning a retreat and the subject is on prayer. Heavens, people have no idea what prayer is or even where to start.” She sighed heavily. “Would you like to teach us?” I asked, a bit amused over her straightforwardness, taking no time for platitudes and small talk.
“Who, me? Who said?”
“You come highly recommended,” I replied.
“Let me talk to my husband and I’ll let you know. Bye.” And just like that she was out the door and gone. I didn’t see or hear from her for several days. By the end of the week she let me know she was willing to lead the retreat that was to be held in September. Doris did teach us about the importance of prayer in her gifted and animated way. I had never heard anyone address the Father in the way that Doris did- completely humble before her Lord. I was witnessing an intimate fellowship between a woman and her Savior. That weekend I came away refreshed, more aware of the importance and beauty of prayer, and thankful that God was gifting me with a wonderful quirky new friend.
God used Doris to gently bring me back to the fold, as my marriage had moved into that painful stage of separation. I was brought up in a lovingly thriving two parent God honoring home where church attending was every fiber of our lives but at this time the Lord knew I needed a woman grounded in the Word as well as humor and honesty to lead me back to a richer walk with Him.
I was separated but being involved in the young single’s group I had met someone who wanted to date me. Not really wanting to ever disappoint God again, I had called Doris to ask her to show me the Biblical view of marriage, divorce, and remarriage. She and her husband invited me over one evening and for several hours the three of us looked at scripture from the Old to the New Testaments about this subject and though after seeing the truth of God’s Word would have me not to enter into a serious relationship, I felt so free to know the boundaries and to know what God wanted for my life.
Doris began teaching basic doctrinal truths, using Francis Schaeffer’s Basic Bible Studies to a small group of hungry souls, including my closest friend who was struggling with her marriage at the time. For the next several years, Doris became Spiritual Mom to both my friend Susan and me, as she intentionally kept leading each of us back to the truths in the Word; back to a closer relationship with Jesus, using her sassy sense of humor and straightforward approach.
One evening Doris invited Susan and me out to see the two man play “Greater Tuna” on stage at the Alabama Theater and the three of us laughed till our sides ached!
In July of 1982 my former mother-in-law called to let me know her son had remarried. I invited Doris to come over right away. I had some news! She danced a little jig right there in the den! She said, “Dianne, you’re free to remarry now!” In 1986 the Lord led me to a wonderful man who loves life, the Lord and me and we’ve just celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary!
Five of us middle-aged moms were standing around in the huge room waiting for our first single moms to enter through the door. It was a sweltering August Wednesday evening at our church in Northwest Houston and we were embarking on a new ministry. What would we say, as we looked around at one another for assurance that we were where we needed to be. We would just welcome them. Love on them. Then one by one three women walked in and looked around and saw something to sign, put on a name tag and the Moms@Midweek began.
By January, 2016 the Lord had added over twenty seeking ladies to our group and a new book to study – Fervent by Priscilla Shirer, who emphasized using scripture to fight off the enemy’s thoughts in our minds.
In this past year, as we mentor moms have been led by the Lord, we have begun spending some extra time with each of our ladies as best we could, through lunch, Saturday dinner at home, coffee out, or sitting on a park bench and watching our children play. It has allowed us to learn more about our moms and what their needs are and how they are depending on the Lord.
What is the purpose of our ministry? I have pondered the relationship between the older woman teaching the younger woman about Godly living as found in Titus 2:3-5. The admonition to encourage the younger women and demonstrate a Godly marriage applies to our Moms@Midweek. What the older women need to know is this: Yes, single moms need teaching, advice, and at times, criticism, but what they need more than anything else is encouragement. If you are an older woman who knows young women who are doing everything in their power to live for God, grab them, hug them, and tell them you appreciate them and are there for them. Make yourself available for them, and most of all, view moms as souls who sincerely need your help getting to heaven.
Recently I wrote an encouraging email to all the moms on a Wednesday morning since we were not meeting that evening. I wrote of how afraid I am of some of our freeways here in town – those narrow, always-under-construction nightmares. But the Word is so full of the Lord admonishing us to not fear. Do not be afraid. I’m here to take care of you, says Isaiah 41:13. Later that day I had lunch with one of my moms. We had talked of many issues, one being fear and control and letting God take care of our children whether with us or out of our home. Toward the end of our two hour lunch I looked at her and asked, “What are you afraid of?”
“Not having enough money,” she responded immediately. We talked that one through, focusing on His provision and our being content with what we have, not comparing ourselves with others.
The next day, she texted me that her work load was such that she would be working extra hours while her daughter was away with her dad so it would mean extra income. I texted back. “He is providing. Give Him praise.” So real, these needs. These moms. Bless them.
Not one Wednesday night has gone by that I did not sense the power of the Lord’s Presence, the Holy Spirit all around us and working through each one of us – drawing us individually to Himself in ways only each of us could recognize. It is palpable, so real. It is the very reason I keep coming back Moms @ Mid-week. Jesus meets us there. No doubt.
We have had no script to follow. We have each just been led by the moving of the Holy Spirit in a very real way. The ladies are real, causing us to be real with them. We’ve been helpless at times, but completely honest enough to say that we didn’t have all the answers. We’ve also been focused on this main premise……to lead the ladies into a deeper commitment and walk with the Lord Jesus Christ by making Him known to them through the Scripture and through the beautiful messy ministry of relationship.
Over the past several months, many of our moms have reached out to one another. They are texting one another and meeting at a nearby park in the early evening, allowing their children to play on the play ground while they sit at the picnic table and catch up with one another. Some have reached out to one or two of our more marginal moms who have not been regularly coming to the Moms@Midweek and they have not only encouraged them to come back, but have also reached out to other moms to join us.
Why in the world was I drawn into this ministry when I was not ever a single mom? I was a woman in great need of a spiritual mom at a particularly fragile time in my mid-twenties and the Lord brought Doris into my life. I never went seeking after her. Or anyone like her. But my all knowing Heavenly Father knew I needed her. Right then. Unconventional and brassy funny. And most assuredly in love with her Savior. Not at all perfect. But most humble and always ready to listen and love me. Just the way I was. Years later it was the Lord Himself who didn’t even have to nudge me. I willingly went upstairs to that vast room filled with middle aged moms, most of whom had been single moms at some point in their lives and I have never looked back. Even after all these years, I remember how much Doris loved me and drew me to the Scriptures and always to her Lord, through actions, speech, humor, and Bible studies. She never tried to take my mother’s place, nor did Mom ever resent Doris being in my life at that time. She knew I needed someone like Doris and she couldn’t be that person for me. And it was all good.
Doris’ legacy of demonstrating and living out a Christ centered life is carrying on to the next generation of women, both in my church and in my friend Susan’s church as she has been leading a group of women in studying God’s Word. These are women to whom the Lord has given both of us to care for in our everyday lives and in the Bible Study classes. May the Lord use us mentor moms to minister to these women and over time, may they then be led to other women whose lives they may touch with the good news that Jesus loves them and died for them and wants more than anything fellowship with them every day of their lives.
One day I asked Doris what brought the two of us together? I mean, you were much older than me and knew that I was separated. She looked at me and smiled. “The Lord said to me, go be her friend.” So I did.
June 15, 1922 – January 18, 2003