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. 101
    Joy says:

    Tears are falling. To be the recipient of such precious love. Your tribute here is so breathtaking. Thank you for allowing us the privilege to read and see such love. I completely lost it looking at that final picture…the hug. I long to feel that. Thanking the Lord for giving you such a precious gift. May you always treasure the memories.
    For the record, you have impacted my life in a life-changing way and someday…maybe not until eternity, I’m going hug you and say thank you…thank you for loving Jesus with passion and pursuing Him all the way. I was praying for you yesterday and asking the Lord to bless you, encourage your heart and protect you from attack. May the Lord daily be your portion…I know He is.
    Blessings, love and prayers,
    Joy

  2. 102

    What a beautiful tribute, and what a beautiful woman. I’m so inspired and encouraged… Perhaps those of us who may never have a Mary Helen in our lives could become a Mary Helen to someone else. As the mother of two (a son and a daughter), it’s so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day and miss the big picture. So inspired by this woman’s precious legacy. God Bless all those who are mourning her. What a gift to KNOW she is now in the presence of the Lord!

  3. 103
    Tess says:

    Dear Beth, I have cried with you as I read your blog. This is the first time I’ve visited it. I have facilitated several of your Bible studies over the years. Recently, I have done Breaking Free (revised)…twice. I cannot begin to describe the impact and changes God has and is continuing to bring in my life. Currently, I am facilitating James Mercy Triumphs. Since I have been doing them so frequently and see you so often, I can almost feel like we ARE girlfriends. I, also, am a tenderhearted person and feel deeply with people. I understand grief and loss. While we rejoice knowing that Mrs Mary Helen Davis is with Jesus and will be there to greet you, my heart aches as you and your family adjust to her absence on this side. I am so grateful for her investment in your life and how God has used it to touch us all. She was truly a living example of faith in action. Loving and prayerful hugs, my dear sister in Christ. Tess

  4. 104
    Robin in New Jersey says:

    Crying while reading this. What a precious woman. Oh that we all would be a Mrs. Mary Helen to someone. Such an encouragement!

    Praying for all of you who have lost such a beautiful gift in your lives. Heaven is richer today…

  5. 105
    Ashley says:

    What a precious, loving memorial to your dear friend. I am crying as I read your blog this morning. I am so moved by your devotion to a woman who was so dedicated to you and your family and your ministry. Thank you for sharing Mrs. Mary Helen with us.

  6. 106
    Karen says:

    I shed tears and I didn’t even know her, but I felt I did by the way you described Mrs. Mary Helen. Thank you for sharing the story and my deepest sympathy to the “whole” family and may the Lord bring you tremendous comfort.

  7. 107
    Brandee says:

    For God to put someone in your path to believe in you in that way is truly an amazing gift. Someone to share life with you and support you. Wow Beth, this touched my heart this morning and because I do not have grandmothers my prayer to God is that He will send me a women like Mrs. Mary Helen into my life. God Bless you and your family during your time of loss.

  8. 108
    Lori says:

    What a beautiful tribute to Mrs. Mary Helen. I feel like I know her even though it is only through your beautiful words. Many prayers are being lifted up for all of you.

  9. 109
    Laura says:

    What a beautiful tribute! And what a blessing for you and your family to have had her in your lives. The picture of you hugging each other is precious! Thank you so much for sharing!

  10. 110
    marlece says:

    I’m sorry for your loss Beth. This is a woman to aspire to be like. Behind the sceenes yet on the forefront of peoples minds for the servant that she was.

    Tears!

  11. 111
    Tanya says:

    Thanks Beth. You are an inspiration.

  12. 112

    …and now, you bless her and honor Him by being a spiritual ‘mom’ to so many.

  13. 113
    Jessica says:

    This is so sweet. Priceless.

    The earth needs more Mary Helen’s.

  14. 114
    Kathy says:

    Oh Beth Thanks for sharing the legacy of such a beautiful soul. I don’t have anyone in my life like that but I am asking God to let ME be that person for someone else. God Bless

  15. 115
    Elizabeth says:

    Beth and all of the LPM ladies,
    What an extraordinary story. The love and respect, going every direction is so evident. Truly lovely. Thank you for sharing. Perhaps this will remind us to see these special people in our own lives more clearly, give thanks or maybe even be just a sliver of who she was to someone in our own lives.
    God’s peace to all who love and mourn her in these days.

  16. 116
    Gail says:

    What a Beautiful story! One we can all learn from and strive to live the same. Being Jesus to Others, I long to be just like Him! Praying for all of you and her family this week. God be with you! You were truly Blessed!

  17. 117
    Carol from Coopersburg says:

    OXO

  18. 118
    Hannah A. says:

    Oh, how I have prayed for a Mary Helen, but I have not yet received.

    I am grateful for the imapact that she had on your life, your ministry, and your family. Imagine her joy in fully realizing the importance of her work on earth when she saw the glorious Subject of her affections! I’ll pray for you as you grieve the pain of her loss.

  19. 119
    Debbie says:

    Beth, I am so sorry for your loss and praying for you and your girls and Carol and her family. We mourn with you and thank you so for sharing about Mrs. Mary Helen’s amazing life of love and legacy.

  20. 120
    Julie Gutierrez says:

    Dear Beth,

    Thank you so much for sharing this precious blog. You can feel the love, honor and gratitude pouring from the post.

    I am sitting here in celebration that Mary Helen Davis walked in such obedience, because her obedience has affected my life. Through bible study with you God took me from crippled and lost to also being ‘living proof’ that God can restore and redeem anyone.

    I will be praying for all of you as you go through this time of loss and that God will saturate you with His lovingkindness and comfort.

    With much love,
    Julie Gutierrez

  21. 121
    Nancy says:

    I want to be like Ms. Mary Helen. My condolences to you. My eyes are moist from your story. Thanks for sharing.

  22. 122
    Dana K. Ray says:

    So sorry for your loss and so excited that Mrs. Mary Helen is basking at the feet of Jesus!!! I pray that I can make an impact on someone’s life as Mrs. Mary Helen did in yours and your family. Many prayers going up for you, your family, the ministry staff at Living Proof, and all of her friends and relatives!! Blessings.

  23. 123
    kimberly mason says:

    yep – you did it again, you made me cry! πŸ™‚ what a true blessing! amazing story!! i’m so sorry for your lose, but grateful you will see her again! do you think she is taping you from heaven? love you! kimberly

  24. 124
    Anita Siecker says:

    Thanks for sharing this, Beth. My sympathies to your family and to hers. She is another beautiful deposit in Heaven. “Knowing she’ll be there makes it easy to go Home….”

    Love you so much,
    Anita

  25. 125

    God is so good to us, to bring the special people into our lives that He has chosen just for us, what a beautiful lady He chose for you, and you have honored her so well in the sharing of her influence on your life.

  26. 126
    Heila says:

    What a powerful ministry she had. Thank you for sharing about her behind-the-scenes obedience. I have witnessed many women of God like her, and am so admiring and thankful for their extensive work. They represent an army of strength, compassion and love in action. I strive to follow their example. Praise God for the power of Love.

  27. 127

    I read this post last night and again this morning. My heart is deeply moved. For the first time, I cannot find any words to express my emotion. Such love and adoration. Thank you for sharing about this precious Sister in Christ. May your journey through the grief bring as much fruit as your journey of life with her. Love you all.

  28. 128
    CrysHouse says:

    I want to be just like that woman.

  29. 129
    Debbra says:

    Oh Beth I’m so sorry for your loss. My heart aches for you and your daughters. Isn’t it a joy knowing you will meet each other someday in eternity. Praise God we have that hope. Don’t take this the wrong way but what I would do to have a lady like that in my life. I’ve prayed countless times for countless years (Ps 37:4) for a mentor/special person who would come along side me and my family. Knowing that you had that special person gives me hope that one day I too will share in that. Cling to Jesus for your comfort and hope in this next week and beyond!

  30. 130
    Alicia says:

    This is so beautiful. I read your words and immediately thought of my deacon’s wife who shares this same love for me. I still have her and you have reminded me not to take this love for granted. May God help your hurting heart.

  31. 131
    Janet from FL says:

    What a beautiful story about a beautiful friendship. Thank you Beth for sharing her story with us.

  32. 132
    Kim says:

    Oh Beth! Grieving and rejoicing with you– and praying that God will wrap you and your girls with His arms of comfort. Your Mrs. Mary Helen reminds me in so many ways of my dear sweet Gramma. I always said she was my home in this world. When she went to be with Jesus at a month shy of 93, I said, “Well, now my home is in heaven for sure.” (-: It sounds like Mrs. Mary Helen was a bit like that for you and your family. Will pray that God will gift y’all with many precious memories to treasure in the days to come.

  33. 133
    Kathy says:

    Oh MY MY MY- How gracious that our Lord sends the Mrs. Mary Helen’s to us- He knew you needed your sweet dear “mother” in Christ – God knew his plans through you and what a perfect gift and remarkable representative of his love to allow your journey to move ahead

    I can just hear the angels singing with welcome for Christ’s saint arriving- Beth, I want to be a Mrs. Mary Helen- through your sharing, we are inspired to allow Christ to work in us to be such a model of his love

  34. 134
    Margo says:

    Every time I get your posts (and your sister’s) in my inbox these days I end up crying.

    That’s a good thing.

    I love that Jesus has the best tape ministry at his fingertips now πŸ™‚

  35. 135
    Lisa says:

    What a loving tribute. May it serve as a reminder to each of us to LOVE with abandon, to give without expecting in return, and to make a difference in someones life just by being who God has called us to be! Welcome Home Mrs. Mary Helen! Well done thou good and faithful servant. Well done!

  36. 136
    Kim says:

    She must of been such a treasure to your family. May God be with you and her family during this time of grieving and celebrating her life, may He give you comfort and peace. How blessed you are with special memories of the love she poured out.

  37. 137
    Kathy says:

    My dear godly Mother was my and many others’ Mary Helen – we are spurred on to live for Christ by their most excellent example of Christian living, are we not? We mourn with you, Living Proof Live and Beth and family, “not as those who have no hope, but through Christ, praise Him, with a Living Hope” (1 Thes. 4:13,1 Peter 1:3) What a priviledge to honour her legacy in Christ with you! Praying for His Comfort to be very real to you all this week.

  38. 138
    Brenda Sorrells says:

    Beth, I love that you are a REAL person that lives life just like I do and loves and hurts just like I do. Sweet, sweet Mary Helen was blessed by your family as much as you were blessed by her. Thank you for sharing her story and the glimps into your love for her. I turned to your blog this AM feeling a connection to you having just lost a treasured pet knowing you would understand that pain and have been blessed by your story. Thank you sweet sister. May God’s presence flood your time of celebrating Mary Helen.

    • 138.1
      Beth says:

      I so understand that loss, Brenda. May God be so tender with you.

    • 138.2
      Betty M says:

      Oh, dear Brenda,
      I just read your post that you lost a pet. Not to minimize the loss at all, of this dear lady she certainly was one of those special people we all hope to have in our life at some point but how are you doing in your loss? I have a sweet little mini schanauzer named Tiffany and she is really starting to have noticeable swelling in her little bottom end. I have felt tumors on her for years but these are new. I took her to the vet afew days ago and he says she has a short time only left and I am just devastated. She was beside me through so many years of depression and everytimeI have been sick she will not leave my side. For 12 yrs she has been with me every where. To never hear that little bark again or see the cute little mannerisms that are so her is almost unbearable to me. Now to me what makes sorrow more bearable in losing a loved one is that we know we have a reunion coming and we will never part agian. with our pets???? We do not know. I do feel that they go to a place of total peace when they die but I do not know if we will ever be reunited with them again. I share your loss as I wait for my tiffy to go. She still gets around fine and looks good but I keep wondering is this the day she is gona start getting sicker? WHat will it be lke to take her in to have her put to sleep? the thought is almost too much. I wish there wAs a way I oculd visit with you in how you are doing and how you are coping but just know THere are others who feel what you are going through right now too, well,it helps. Grieving is such hard work, so to all who are today we join together in a prayer of thanksgiving in love for the memories each special one God has given us. Bless you all as we go on. Betty M

  39. 139

    I have about a hundred of those white cassette tapes, circa 1990, with her little writing on them. How can I part with them now? Mary Helen fussed at me for ordering and forgetting to pay! Shame on me. We are all rich because of Mary Helen’s love and example. Sweet angel!

    • 139.1
      Beth says:

      Oh, Kelley! How wonderful to hear from you! I am picturing your beautiful face and wide smile as I read your comment. I would so love to see you again! I am tickled that Mrs. Mary Helen fussed at you. Needed that laugh. How is Simon?? And how old is he now? And is he the smartest boy to ever live??

  40. 140
    Cathy Robertson says:

    Beth,
    I love how you introduced her to us, allowed us to be touched by her love and then grieve with you in this loss. We all will be praying for her family and yours.
    OH, HOW HE LOVES US!!
    Cathy/Houston

  41. 141
    Beverly Hudson says:

    I remember the first time I met Mary Helen. I was able to come to one of Beth’s Sunday School classes, slipping away from my own church! I placed an order for a series of tapes of the lesson I was priviledged to attend. She was like talking with an angel. Her kindness and gentleness was like the sweetest fragrance. What a life of the Father’s reflection and I didn’t even know her. I made a point of saying hello to her everytime I attended a Tues.nite Bible Study and that gracious smile and warm hug was the best thing ever. I was so blessed to have just brushed by her.

  42. 142
    erin says:

    Bawling. And praying this for myself:

    12 The righteous will flourish like a palm tree,
    they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon;
    13 planted in the house of the LORD,
    they will flourish in the courts of our God.
    14 They will still bear fruit in old age,
    they will stay fresh and green,
    15 proclaiming, β€œThe LORD is upright;
    he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.”

  43. 143
    Cindy from Ohio says:

    Beth,
    I am so sorry for the loss of Mary Helen’s presence in your daily life. No truer words than we grieve to the extent that we loved. We all do need someone like her and a few of us know the faithfulness of one like her. God has spoken through her to you and your family and what a mesage. Our family is blessed to have had the same message, GOD LOVES US and uses HIS people to bless and guide and fulfill HIS purposes on this earth and now she praises in HIS presence forever more.

  44. 144
    Debbie K. Summersville, Mo says:

    Beth,
    I pray that God will give you, the girls, and Carol comfort in this time of pain. It is never easy to lose someone, even when we know that God is ready for them to come home. I pray that the praise you know Mary Helen is giving Him will ease your pain!

  45. 145

    I cried when I read this last night. Then cried again when I read it this morning. Beautiful tribute to one who worked quietly behind the scenes. I want to be like her. I am so glad she obeyed because so many are blessed through your ministry.

    Thank you for sharing her with us. Will pray for you and your family and her daughter’s family as well. Looking forward to meeting her in heaven
    someday.

  46. 146
    Michelle says:

    The tears streamed down my face as I read of the special relationship you and your girls had with sweet Mrs. Mary Helen! Oh how I praise the Lord for her life by encouraging and cheerleading you on Beth, in the ministry. She would probably get a kick out of the fact that a lot of nights I put your CD’s in a portable player and use my little earbuds to go to sleep to at night! Look what she started!

  47. 147
    Shaunessy says:

    This blog pulls more tears outta my face then I would like. πŸ™‚ I keep coming back. Thank you for this sweet post and for the pics. I love Mrs. Mary Helen just from your description. I am so thankful that God gives us “Mary Helens” and wish there were more. Something we should aspire to be for sure. So sorry for all of you that knew her and had her presence in your life as I know it just glorified our Lord. Hugs.

  48. 148
    Sarah says:

    Thinking and praying for you all…it’s so true that “we grieve to the extent that we loved” praying for you and your family, siesta momma.

  49. 149
    April says:

    What a sweet legacy. I’m almost positive I recognize her from the video portions of the study I’m currently in “When Godly People Do Ungodly Things”. It’s funny, even before this post and certainly before I knew who she was, she had a presence that just seemed to show during the video. Praying for her family and all who love her.

  50. 150

    What a beautiful tribute to an obviously beautiful and special woman in your life. Thank you for giving us a glimpse into the friendship the two of you shared and prayers for all in the adjustment to life without her; but, what a time she must be having now! Oh glorious day …

    Bless you,
    Cindy K

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