A Mothers’ Day Tribute To My Mom


This is a tribute written by Kate Brown to Marilyn on Mothers’ Day.

“Mom, I reflect on your character and your teachings and influence on my life more than you probably know, particularly (although not at all limited to) this time of year. I often intend to write a letter like this to you, but all too often just think about it and never put it into words. Having awakened at an ungodly hour for some reason this morning, I shall take this as a providential opportunity to express my gratefulness now.

You were the first one to teach me about Jesus. He made me, He is in charge of everything, and all-powerful and loving and knows everything, including what is best for us… He can do anything he wants to do; nothing is too hard for God. He always sees me. These are the simple terms you used to introduce me to these aspects of His character… His sovereignty, wisdom, love, power, omnipotence, omnipresence, omniscience. You sought to teach me early the fear of the Lord. 

Marilyn and Kate

You embraced “Thy Word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path” and took Deuteronomy 6 quite seriously, putting scripture before our eyes constantly, all over the walls (and curtains and bedspreads and pillow shams and tablecloths, etc.) of our home, teaching it to us and helping & encouraging us to commit it to memory from the earliest age, investing your time and talents into pouring God’s Word into your family, believing it would not return void (Isaiah 55:11).

You were consistent, firm when necessary but always gentle, and I am amazed when I recall your patience and gentleness with us when we were a pack of little kids. I don’t ever remember you yelling at us or being out of control in your emotions. I do remember you involving us in your everyday tasks, using them as teaching opportunities but also creating quality time spent with Mom in the nitty-gritty tasks of life. One such example is the clear memory I have of you letting me sit on the kitchen counter and “help” you make pizza dough when I was probably 3 or so, not only putting up with the delay that my “assistance” surely offered, but explaining the process to me as you sprinkled the yeast on the water and let me stir. That was the beginning of my cooking “career” as you taught me patiently to cook and put up with an awful lot of mess in your kitchen in the process over the years as I took it from there when I was old enough and baked on my own. (Yes, I also remember how you taught me to clean up after myself as I went. I’ve even started implementing that sometimes!) 😉

I remember you prioritizing one-on-one time with each of us, putting Nate, Josh & me to bed for naps but then calling us out one at a time for “special time with Mom” when you would read to us from Leading Little Ones to God or our favorite Bible story books before sending us back to bed and calling the next one in turn. Several years later, you bought me my first prayer journal and transitioned me into having my own quiet times with God, giving me guidance along the way. (My minimalist husband thanks you for the habit of journaling this started in me and the wooden chest full of my journals that moves to a new home every time we do… ha! 😉 … but seriously, I love having a record of my prayers and this visual, written reminder of God’s faithfulness in my life.) When I was in my teen or young adult years, if I needed to talk, I could always find you no matter how late it was, usually right there reading your Bible in the same corner.

Marilyn with the Kids

Something that occurred to me the other day is that you didn’t have Facebook or a social media group of moms at your fingertips to ask advice or bounce ideas off of, like we have today. Instead, when you found yourself up against a problem or challenge, no matter how big or small, you sought the answer through prayer and turning to God’s Word, and I am reminded that your way is the better way. We all should be seeking God through His Word and prayer first, not as a last resort.

“The law of kindness {was} on your tongue,” and I remember you randomly calling out, “Everybody say something you like about Kate!” (or whichever brother or sister), encouraging us to be kind too. At other times, you would give the admonition when necessary, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all!” — another motto that would serve us all well to practice today!

You were industrious (and still are very much so!). I get tired just thinking of the energy you expended in planting (and watering and weeding) our giant gardens back in the day, then harvesting and canning everything we grew, not to mention mountains of laundry, cooking, cleaning, keeping your children alive, healthy and flourishing. You sewed our clothes (till it became cheaper to buy them on clearance). We groaned when you stopped at Piece Goods, but it was to our advantage in the end (I specifically remember the pastel floral dress you made me with the light blue sailor collar of which I was so proud when I was 11 or 12). You kept a nice house for Dad, having us all clean up our toys from the when he was due to arrive home and having supper ready or nearly ready for him. As we got older, you trained us all in the housework and rotated our jobs so we would all know how to care for our own homes one day. Oh, and you taught us all academically speaking. You know, and a few other little things like that. I never saw you meddling in anyone else’s business, but instead looking well after your own.

You were not self-indulgent, never demanding “me time” though you carved time in each day for your exercise of choice and time in the Word. Often the last sight I would see as a young child (usually coming out of my room after you’d sent me to bed initially, just because I wanted Mom, and before you sent me back to bed the final time) was the lamplight softly illuminating the Bible and notebook open on your lap as you sat in your rocking chair in the living room, the same chair from which you rocked babies and assigned schoolwork during the day (and probably the only times you ever sat down in the course of a day). You had hobbies, but they usually profited your family or home and they didn’t crowd out your time with your family but instead you often had us join you in your crafting. You sacrificed your own pleasure for ours.

Mothers' Day Early On

I see emotional strength that God has worked in you as you’ve responded in submission to trials He has allowed to come into your life. You’ve endured disapproval, rejection and criticism from near and far, more so than most will ever know, yet I’ve never seen you be anything but gracious in your response, even at times when I am sure you had to have been deeply hurt. You’ve never been one to wallow in your sorrows or throw a pity party for yourself. I remember you telling me that you had tried feeling sorry for yourself once, but you didn’t like it. I laughed because it sounded comical, but you said that you were serious, you found it discouraging to embrace self pity and didn’t know why anyone would choose to feel sorry for themselves when they had a choice in the matter of attitude/outlook. This conversation has come back to my mind many a time when I needed the reminder to choose joy despite unpleasant circumstances.

You don’t seek your own glory, boast or call attention to yourself or talk about how great you are. You don’t seem to take yourself too seriously, can laugh nearly to tears at your epic miscommunication bloopers, and don’t sit around and fret or worry about things beyond your control — a good lesson for my own over-analyzing self.

When I was 13 or 14, I remember you returning home from the hospital, empty handed except for a birth certificate with tiny footprints inked on it, bearing the first name of only “Baby Boy”, suffering the pain of miscarriage at 5 months. You treated human life with dignity, grieving the loss of a very real life, while acknowledging to yourself and to us that God is good even when we don’t understand, adopting the attitude of “the Lord gives and the Lord takes away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” Little did you know that within a couple of years, you would be practically living at the hospital with your fourth son, now a teenager, as he fought for his life against leukemia, finding comfort in the strength of your steady presence as you fought to keep your tears inside since he hated for people to cry over him. At least every other day I watched you pack your Bible, baby paraphernalia and blankets as you spent as many nights as possible with him despite having a newborn in tow.

This is far lengthier than I intended already, yet I feel I’ve barely scratched the surface of acknowledging how you have invested in my life and in our family (I’m only up to 1997!). Your husband and children arise and call you blessed for sure (though probably not often enough), but more importantly, your Lord has seen every sacrifice made, every tear shed, every heartache unspoken, every prayer you’ve spoken and thought. He has seen the faithfulness with which you have tackled the mundane, for it is His grace that has enabled you and begun the good work in you which He will be faithful to complete until the day of Christ Jesus. I am grateful He gave me a mom like you.”

Marilyn, Kate, and Kate's daughter