Someone Comes Along

Every now and then, someone comes along who changes everything. I was in my late twenties when a woman I’d come to know through my aerobics class then a small Sunday school class came up to me and said with a gentle firmness, “God is calling me to support you in ministry.”

It was the first time…

A) that anybody had ever called whatever on earth I was doing “ministry.”

and,

B) that there was even enough to be done for anyone to actually help me do it, for crying out loud.

Though I’d already come to like her so much and was instantly taken aback by her kindness, I could not have begun to grasp how God had smiled on me that moment. As I look back on it, she would only have been a couple of years older than I am now.

Her name was Mary Helen Davis. Or, to my family and to multiple hundreds of people at Houston’s First Baptist Church, “Mrs. Mary Helen.” I was in my early thirties and teaching my first ungraded class of women when she walked in one Sunday right before class with one of those off-white rectangular cassette recorders with the big thick buttons. I looked at her curiously and she waved her hand as if to dismiss it entirely and said, “I’m just going to set this right here…” (a folding table near my small podium) “…and record some of these lessons. Who knows but that somebody might want one some time. Don’t pay any attention to it. You’ll never know it’s there.”

Within several years as the class grew, she moved a duplicator upstairs in her home and copied tapes all by herself each week for anybody who signed up for one. And…wait for it…laid hands on every single tape. She hand wrote the title of the lesson on each cassette with a Sharpie. Several years after that, her best buddy and our second official volunteer, Julie Weir, began helping her. Because of God’s grace alone, the class kept growing and people kept ordering and a couple of years after that, we started looking for a tiny little office space so our homes were not turned upside down. I wish I had some way of making this next statement appear on this page with all the passion and honesty that I feel as I write it: NO ONE ON THE PLANET has supported, (accidentally) steered, served and loved this ministry more than Mrs. Mary Helen Davis. She even let me try the name “Living Proof” on her. Turned out, she liked it.

Soon after that, that title developed into the name of a non-profit and necessitated a board of directors. And she was on it.

During all this time, she was not just supporting me in ministry. She supported me in mothering. Melissa was one and Amanda was four when Mrs. Mary Helen first came into our lives. Because she was in both my Sunday School class and my aerobics classes, we saw her a minimum of three times a week. My girls do not remember life pre-Mrs. Mary Helen. To give you some idea of how in love they fell with her, there was a period of years when I never – let me say that again a little louder – I NEVER got one single craft that Melissa Moore did in Sunday School. Nope. Mrs. Mary Helen did. Stay with me here. EVEN MY MOTHER’S DAY PRESENT made in kindergarten Sunday School went straight past me and into Mrs. Mary Helen’s hands. We both laughed so hard behind Melissa’s back that we nearly couldn’t stand up. Mrs. Mary Helen was such a fun sport that she’d take them…and I’d let her…and we’d tell it and retell it on Melissa for years to come. (Amanda was too sensitive about people’s feelings to be as forthright about passing me over for Mrs. Mary Helen but I don’t doubt she wanted to. I’m sure it was a sacrifice.) My mother had gone to be with the Lord Jesus when Amanda married and Mrs. Mary Helen sat right beside me on that front row and when, at the first glimpse of that gorgeous bride, I stood to my feet, she stood right beside me. And bawled her head off.

When Melissa was six years-old and in the hospital for a week, you can guess who she requested. Of course, she got both of us. I did not give over that easy. But at least I got to go home and get a change of clothes on occasion. Melissa swore and declared that Mrs. Mary Helen would be one of her bridesmaids and we were all – including Mrs. Mary Helen – scared to death she was serious. We were all relieved when she gave over at the time and let Mrs. Mary Helen simply stand in place as the Bride’s maternal grandmother. Mrs. Mary Helen just didn’t know if she could bring herself to wear one of those strapless bridesmaids’ dresses.

Mrs. Mary Helen adored my children. And my husband. Oh, she’d laugh at him! (And all the harder if I didn’t think he was very funny.) But, to be fair, she didn’t just love our family. She loved everyone she met. She cooked for people, doted on them and showered them with gifts. Case in point: one time my coworker Sabrina talked about often serving her family their dinner on paper plates. Mrs. Mary Helen never judged her. She just bought her a whole set of dishes. Sabrina treasures them like diamonds set in solid gold today. So many of my coworkers can tell similar stories and all of them can boast in God’s kindness to them shown through that one powerful woman who never appeared anywhere except behind the scenes. She moved to Washington State several years ago to live near her daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren – whom she totally adored. We could hardly tear ourselves away from her but her health was declining and she did exactly what she needed to do. Her family got to lap up every possible drop of those last few years. God was all wise. He always is.

Our beloved Mrs. Mary Helen saw Jesus late Wednesday night.

We are so happy for her. And so happy for HIM. He must surely be delighted. And, there is no doubt in my mind that He has the best tape ministry He’s ever had.

But I have cried my eyes out, over and over since her daughter Carol let me know that He’d come for her. She was loving enough to tell me only a couple of minutes later. I am so thankful that she has so graciously allowed me to love her mother alongside her, as my second mother. My girls are heartbroken over her passing, too. Oh, mercy. She was a love. We will grieve to the extent that we loved. We will spend much of next week getting ready for her service. It will be back here in Houston where she raised her family and she will be buried right next to her man.This is the two of them. It was taken I guess about 10 years ago.

 

This is her and her BFF Julie Weir. We were all dressed in jammies for a staff Christmas party.

 

A few of us at another staff Christmas party when we moved from a jammy theme to a headdress theme.

And another. She is holding our Jackson in this picture who appeared that day as Claus.

I am almost positive this was taken at Amanda’s wedding:

This picture is Mrs. Mary Helen, her daughter, Carol, and me on a very important day at Living Proof Ministries: the dedication of the Mary Helen Davis Resource Center.

This will be on the wall of that center as long as God chooses for Living Proof Ministries to exist.

We all hope we’re loved but, for all of us, occasionally we absolutely KNOW we are loved. We don’t know why maybe. But we are. I do not know why God caused this woman to love me.

But she did.

 

And my entire life was changed in those arms.

 

 

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346 Responses to “Someone Comes Along”

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Comments:

  1. 1
    Jill says:

    Beth,
    What a precious tribute to your friend. She was your Barnabas.

    Jill

  2. 2
    Liesl says:

    What a blessing to have such a woman in your life. I’m so sorry for your loss, but we also know that you WILL see her again – and what a reunion that will be! Isn’t heaven wonderful? Hugs to your family during these days…

  3. 3
    Sandy says:

    Dear Beth,
    Thank you so much for sharing your Mrs. Mary Helen with us. You are so eloquent. . .it makes us almost feel as with we knew her! I will be praying for her family and your family, for God to continue to comfort you, give you peace and wonderful memories.

  4. 4

    Beth, I’m so very sorry for the loss of your dear friend and second mother. May God comfort you and all who knew and loved her. So very hard to say good-bye. Thank the Lord a great reunion day is coming, right?

  5. 5
    Sherrie says:

    Beth, Melissa and Amanda
    My heart goes out to you as I rejoice in the blessing this dear precious friend God blessed you with is now with her Saviour. As blessed as you were by her presence in your life, you will surely have a whole in your heart and a lump in your throat as you know not one more hug, nor kind word will come your way from her heart.
    Let me challenge you to become Mrs. Mary Helen to someone God puts in your path. There is always someone in our midst that NEEDS someone to love them for no reason, except God called you to support them. Even though this is such a time of celebrating a life that touched hundreds and will continue to touch through LPM. You rejoice for a servant of God and allow her to hug you in her absence as she has so many times. Hugs and prayers ladies.

  6. 6
    Kathleen says:

    Dear Beth – I remember this dear lady from the “When Godly People Do Ungodly Things” videos. She always looked so sweet, motherly and grandmotherly – and I wondered who she was. I did that study twice – so I really got to know those lovely ladies! God bless you as you say good-bye to her.

  7. 7
    sweet anonymous says:

    Dearest Beth,
    I’m so sorry for the loss of someone so precious to you and your family. Looking at that sweet Mary’s face it isn’t hard to see the love of Jesus so beautifully shining there. To have someone believe in us like that, there’s nothing quite like it is there. I would have loved to see the wide grin on the face of Jesus as He took Mary into His arms. I wonder what she thinks of the gold beneath her feet…or can’t you just imagine her sitting beside the crystal sea inhaling the wonderful fragrance of heaven. I think it’s safe to say everytime she thinks of you in glory there will be a smile on her face. I’m sorry you’ve had to say good-bye to someone so dear to your heart. I know that cuts deep. You and your family will be in my prayers. This Mary loves you too..

  8. 8
    Ginger says:

    This is such an amazing precious testimony. I often ponder Phoebe who carried one of Paul’s letters (I can’t remember now which one). Some people just carry the letter. Or make the cassette tapes. Thanks be to God.

  9. 9
    Pat says:

    Beth,
    Please accept my condolences on the loss of a dear friend! What a treasure she is! What a special lady! I’m sure she will meet you in heaven! Possibly with a tape recorder, so she can tape your overjoyed response! And make copies for the rest of us to enjoy too!
    May the Lord bless you, your family, and her family and friends with His grace and comfort during this time.

  10. 10
    Tina says:

    Oh I’m so sorry to hear about her passing. She touched many lives at HFBC. I’m sure she is having a GRAND time with Jesus and Marge Caldwell. I’ll be praying for all of you all. It’s never easy when there is a loss of a loved one!

  11. 11
    TerrieG says:

    My condolences to all of the families that this sweet Godly woman touched. And it sounds like that could be many!! Thank You so much for sharing the life of Mrs. Mary Helen. I’m smack dab in the middle of your James study…and I think that she is a perfect example of living out her faith in works! I want to be like Mrs. Mary Helen! I’m not sure I will achieve it, but what a great goal! Loved your comment on Jesus’ tape ministry! What a lovely thought!!

  12. 12
    Mindy says:

    Ah Miss Beth…
    I just learned today that a wonderful old man from my church died on Wednesday morning! Oh how he loved the Lord and loved people. He was so kind to even this young thing…at least I still think I’m young.

    I just keep thinking of all the other saints that he is now reunited with…all the men and women who loved God deeply and prayed devotedly while they were here, like your Mrs. Mary Helen. The cloud of witnesses gained two sweet souls on Wednesday.

    And of course, certainly not least, he is with his Beloved Lord. “What a fellowship, what a Joy Divine!”

  13. 13

    I am tear-filled. I know you all will miss her greatly but am so grateful you can celebrate her arrival in the Kingdom.

  14. 14
    sepik-meri katie says:

    oh my……. what a precious post. and woman. i genuinely feel for your loss. i am blessed speechless by the love God gave someone like that for me and the thought of losing her is making my throat twist and tears spill over. i can say these words too…

    “I do not know why God caused this woman to love me.

    But she did.

    And my entire life was changed in those arms.”

    what a tribute to the love God has for us and that he knew JUST who to put in our lives to make sure we knew it… <3

    will be praying for you as you grieve this dear sweet soul.

  15. 15
    Carol Ann says:

    My Tuesday morning bible study (Revelation, of course)friend sent this to me. I know he is delighted to see her. To serve as my mother would be more than I could hope.

    Psalm 116:15-16
    Precious in the sight of the LORD
    is the death of his faithful servants.
    Truly I am your servant, LORD;
    I serve you just as my mother did;
    you have freed me from my chains

    • 15.1
      Beth says:

      Siestas, this is Mrs. Mary Helen’s daughter, Carol, who I talked about in the post. She’s also in one of the pictures. My heart floods with gratitude and affection toward her for about a thousand reasons. She cherished her mom and lovingly cared for her and sought her highest good till the very moment Christ swept her up. Pray for her, her husband Terry, and their two children as well as Carol Ann’s beloved brother as they mourn and as they make the emotional trip home to where they were raised.

      Carol Ann, your mother was so wild about you and Eddie. Oh, mercy, she was proud of the two of you. She would undoubtedly say right now that you are already the servant you would hope to be. Oh, to see yourself through her sparkling eyes!

      Thank you for giving me a place. I love you so. See you soon.

      • Sally Denton says:

        Carol, I am so sorry for your loss. Thank-you Beth for the words that you wrote “Oh, to see yourself through her sparkling eyes” The Holy Spirit JUST gave me this same message through my husband when he lovingly sat me down recently with my children as I was letting the world and others beat me up with their words and He said SAlly, Who’s eyes are you going to chose to look at yourself through? The ones who truly and sincerly love you and your Saviors’ or those who do not and the enemies'”….They were life changeing words and The Lord and I have been working on it since. I’m praying with all.

  16. 16
    Amy Beth says:

    Oh man. I am sobbing right now. I am in a season where I’m having to (filled with anguish and wishing that this was not the case) ask God if he would send me a mama figure to be in my life and take me into her arms. I’m careful about what I say about it publicly because I’m trying to honor but… I need a mama right now. Badly.

    PS – I don’t think I’ve ever told you this before, but twice, I’ve gotten up in the middle of your Bible studies and walked out of the church so that the other women wouldn’t see me burst into tears over something you’ve said that hit me right in the gut. The first was when I was doing Loving Well and you talked about Amanda’s voicemail on your answering machine and how much you loved your daughters. The second was when I was doing Esther and you talked about how Esther needed both parents, but then highlighted specifically why a daughter needs a mother.

    • 16.1
      Beth says:

      Oh Amy Beth, I am asking God right now to send that mother figure to you. He esteems your need, precious child. And that will be one blessed woman to be loved by you in return. You are worthy of love, Amy Beth. So, so worthy of love.

    • 16.2
      Sue says:

      Amy Beth, I’ll be lifting you up in prayer for your Mama figure. My heart ached for you as I read your post. I pictured my daughter saying that and it went straight to my heart. I’ll also pray that you find a woman at your church you could confide in. I agree with Beth, you are precious and His masterpiece!!

    • 16.3

      Amy Beth, I am right there with you. I have never had that in my life either and at times have been painfully aware of that need and tried very hard to fight tears as I’ve seen mother daughter relationships right before my eyes and felt the ache of not having that in my life. Part of my problem is not trusting women because of the way I was treated by my biological mama. I tend to expect women to only be critical of me. I am crying right now at the realization that I need to learn to trust other women who are close to me (physically close. This is so much easier, cause none of you live close or know where I live!)

  17. 17
    Michelle Baylerian says:

    Dear Beth,

    What a beautiful tribut to any amazing woman after God’s own heart! She fanned into flame the gift of teaching that The Holy Spirit had given you. She saw what is now Living Proof through the eyes of Jesus. What a treasure. Thank you for including us in your grieving. May He wrap his loving arms around your family.

    With love and blessings,

    Michelle

  18. 18
    Shara says:

    What a treasure! Such a gift, to love and be loved. I’ll be praying for you and your family as you celebrate a life well lived and loved.

  19. 19
    jan says:

    I have never heard you mention her. What a sweet post. I can relate because I too have a “Mary Helen” that has helped raise my family. We live far away from our parents and my sweet “Mary Helen” has filled grandparent shoes many many many times. I am so glad she encouraged you. What a sweetie.

  20. 20
    kendal says:

    okay. i am crying. this is one of the sweetest posts i have ever read. so glad you included pictures.

  21. 21
    Kathleen says:

    Oh Beth, so grateful for the flame she fanned in you, that you fan in us. Thank you for sharing those blessed memories with us. Look forward to the day we will meet your beloved friend. Praying for all of your hearts as you celebrate Mrs. Mary Helen’s life. The last picture says it all….hugs and love.

    Kathleen

  22. 22
    Heidi... says:

    Your Mrs. Mary Helen and our Amazing Grandma Grace both met Jesus on the same day. Oh how the angels must have rejoiced when those two saints stepped foot on those streets of gold!

    Praying for your aching hearts tonight!

    ~H

  23. 23
    Warm In Alaska says:

    Tears.

    Thank You, Jesus, for the Body of Christ. When the Bride loves like the Bridegroom, it’s a thing of beauty.

  24. 24

    My “Mary Helen’s” name was Mary Katherine. She passed away 6 years ago, while I was pregnant and on bed rest with my middle daughter. Mary Katherine influenced my life more than any other person in my life. I adored her. So much of my childhood is wrapped up in her. Like you said, I KNOW I was loved by her. I miss her so much.

    Praying for you all this week as you celebrate Mary Helen’s life.

    Robyn

  25. 25

    I am grieving with you, tears streaming down my face as I type. What a precious gift from Jesus! Because of what I’ve just read, I intend to be forever mindful of when and where God might call me to be a support to another sister in Christ in ministry. Simply beautiful.

  26. 26
    Casey says:

    May we all have someone like Mrs. Mary Helen in our lives and then may we all BE someone like Mrs. Mary Helen for someone in our lives.

    Grateful to reap the benefits of her impact on your life Mama Beth.

  27. 27
    Lindsey says:

    Oh good gracious I cried and cried reading this beautiful post. I love when God uses people to love us with HIS love! May this season be one of celebration and rejoicing as you honor this sweet woman. Thank you for sharing her with us! ๐Ÿ™‚

  28. 28
    Marie Davis says:

    Oh sweet Siesta Mama–I’m crying my eyes out with you! What a beautiful tribute to a beautiful life. Oh, to love others and impact lives with the same kind of heart as your Mrs. Mary Helen….

  29. 29
    Kim Feth says:

    Thank you for sharing. Having never met her, even I’m inspired!
    Peace,
    Kim Feth
    Apex, NC

  30. 30
    Casey says:

    Oh Beth, I am so sorry. I am praying God envelopes all of you in His love and warms you with memories of her. I was reading something you wrote today and briefly wondered what those early days were like. If you had people to “Titus 2” you through it.

    Praying for you. Thank you for sharing Mrs. Mary Helen with us.

  31. 31
    laura says:

    What a beautiful tribute. Tears flowed as I read this…what a blessing.

  32. 32
    Charlotte Skadal says:

    Sweet Beth,

    I’m lifting your family and the loved ones of Mrs. Mary Helen up in prayer as they remember her with a full heart. Very little of your story reminded me of my grandmother. She didn’t encourage me to begin a ministry, she didn’t help me rear my children, she didn’t even live close enough to do that, but something about your loving words in tribute to this beautiful woman caused my grandmother’s face to flash into my memory. I can tell you that she was loving, tender, full of the Lord and when she passed away, that was the moment I really knew there was a place that we will meet with Jesus. There is just no other way this life, especially Ada King’s life, can end but to begin again in God’s kingdom. It’s my peace, as it is yours, when we have to say good-bye….for now….until we meet again as we are promised in His word.

    I’m in prayer for you as you miss Mrs. Mary Helen.
    Love and Blessings

  33. 33
    rhonda says:

    What a wonderful legacy we are all a part of. I will be praying for you all duirng this time.

  34. 34
    Cindy says:

    So glad you had her!

  35. 35
    Sarah Marion says:

    What a blessing to have God send someone along side you to steadily love and support you through the ups and downs of family life and ministry! What a beautiful tribute and such an example for us to follow. I can’t wait to meet her in heaven. Thank you for sharing her story with us.

  36. 36
    Susan says:

    What a beautiful tribute to someone who has left you a legacy of love.

    Looking forward to meeting Mrs. Mary one day!

  37. 37
    Alisha says:

    This is huge. Beth, I am so sorry for your loss. My prayers are with your family.

  38. 38
    Deanna says:

    I am so sorry for your loss. Just because we are happy to know that our loved ones are whole and in His presence doesn’t make the void they leave in our lives and less real or painful. Thank you for sharing about Mrs. Mary Helen, I’ll like to meet her one day in heaven along with you.

  39. 39
    Michele says:

    I am sorry for your loss, thankful that you know you will see her again, and touched that you share such personal things with us. May Jesus wipe your tears and hold you tight.

  40. 40
    Sandy Bowers says:

    Beth…..I am so sorry. We know that Jesus came to get at least TWO of his precious children on Wednesday. Mrs. Mary Helen sounds like such an amazing woman to have known and have as part of your family. I hope my Dad and Mrs. Mary Helen bumped into each other on their way home and shared a few kindnesses. Dad’s service is Monday morning. Bless you sweet thing, I will be thinking of you next week. Wish I could hug you.

  41. 41
    Natalie Gravlee says:

    Thank you, again, Beth for sharing your heart. Oh, that I could be that to someone. To
    completely get outside myself and be so others focused….that I could pray not, what does God want me to do, but who does He want me to encourage and support. Wow! Thank you too, Beth,
    for your obedience. This is one woman whose life was changed by the power of The Word
    because you sacrificed and obeyed so others could love God and His Word.
    Thank you is just not enough, but thank you from my heart!

  42. 42
    Carla says:

    Praying for you and your girls tonight.

  43. 43
    Denise says:

    I was ill in the night and knew this morning that I should check the blog. Nothing was new so this evening I checked again and what a post. What a life to celebrate. What a vision from the Lord she had and she had the faith to act on it too. Sorry for the loss. Keep her alive by telling the stories.

  44. 44
    Hilda says:

    I remember Miss Mary Helen so fondly from the Dayspring Sunday School class! What a sweetheart; her warmth of spirit exuded to everyone. I’m so thankful the Lord brought her alongside you just when you needed the encouragement and nurturing, Beth! We’ve all benefited from her love & warmth she poured into you & your family!!

  45. 45
    Ginnie says:

    A beautiful tribute Beth! Praying God’s comfort upon you, your girls, and Mrs. Mary Helen’s family. As I read your post I was reminded of how each of us are called to be Titus 2 women! I pray that even now I am being a Titus 2 woman to the young women in my life and that I will touch their hearts and lives as Mrs. Mary Helen touched yours.

  46. 46
    Ann says:

    Beth,
    So sorry for your loss but so thankful for all she meant to you, your family and many others. My Mary Helen’s name was Fern, God sent her to be a Mom to me and speak so much truth into my life. I miss her so much. I am praying for Amy Beth who wrote, I once prayed for a Mom and God sent me Fern. I know He can fill that place for you too Amy Beth, I am praying He will.
    Ann

  47. 47
    Tina says:

    Beth, I am so sorry for your loss. I remember Mrs. Mary Helen from the “When Godly People Do Ungodly Things” Bible study. Please know that you all are in my prayers.

  48. 48
    Trinna says:

    What a beautiful tribute to a beautiful woman of God. Hugs and prayers, Beth. Saying goodbye is so very hard.

  49. 49
    Heather says:

    Dear Beth and Carol,

    Thank you for sharing such a wonderful testimony about your dear friend and mother. I am so sorry to hear that she has gone from your sides. What an amazing story of faithfulness and love as she served those around her. Thank you, thank you for sharing a little bit of her with us here on the blog.

    Heather

  50. 50

    Thanking Him for this special lady’s ministry. Without her touch on your life, Ms.Beth, you wouldn’t be touching ours in the profound way you are.
    Love and prayers to all.

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