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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  1. 151
    His Jules says:

    Your tribute to Mrs. Mary Helen was beautiful. I am so thankful for her sowing seeds into your ministry, it was through that tape ministry that I was first introduced to your ministry and to this hunger for more of God and His WORD. What a legacy of faith she has left….

    Would it be appropriate to honor Mrs. Mary Helen with a gift to the Siesta Scholarship Fund in her honor? Is that possible? It just seems right to honor her by continuing to sow into ministry.

    Praying for you, the girls, and of course her family during this week as you prepare for the homegoing service.

  2. 152
    Joyce Watson says:

    Oh Beth, I wish I could give you a big hug. What a beautiful, Christian friend and such a precious, kind lady God put in your life. She was a blessing. It brings tears to my eyes.
    I would love to have a friend as precious and caring_that would teach me and mentor me along life way.
    I will be teaching S.S. tomorrow and thought about your book “To Live is Christ” this is what I read and this story relates:
    Hearts like a cathedral rather than minds like a concordance. Your friend had a heart like a cathedral!

  3. 153
    Rhonda says:

    Beth, so sorry for your loss. I also had tears reading about your beloved friend and supporter. A friend of mine who lost her mother commented to me once, “she was my cheerleader in life”. And, it sounds like Mary Helen was a cheerleader for you. Praying for you as you grieve.

  4. 154
    Melissa Ford says:

    wow, very sweet, mascara is running and it’s date night. you guys were so blessed and the Lord is just snuggling her up right now. thanks for sharing the stories and those precious pictures!

  5. 155
    Sue Lambert says:

    Years ago, when I volunteered elsewhere at Houston’s First on Sunday mornings, when asked the name of my Sunday School Teacher, I answered: Mrs. Mary Helen Davis. She made sure that I got Beth’s teachings on cassette each week — and always had a kind word about Beth’s substitute teachers. I was so blessed by her kindness and consistent provision of Bible lessons. The blessings go on and on — whether I listened and filed them for further study or passed them on to another hungry soul.

  6. 156
    Sharie Shupp says:

    What a sweet testimony of a godly life lived in loving and serving others. I look forward to meeting Mary in Heaven! Thanks for sharing about your faithful friend. What a gift to you and your family!

  7. 157
    Kristina Foster says:

    Thank you for sharing the story of Mrs. Mary Helen!! She sounds like a beautiful, wonderful woman of God. Celebrating her life and ministry while mourning the loss with you! Blessings and prayer to you & her family!

  8. 158
    Deborah Pearle says:

    Dear Beth,
    I’ve always wondered how you were “discovered” and who/what God used to bring you to us. Praise the Lord for this precious Mrs. Mary Helen. Your tribute was amazing.
    I came face-to-face with you several years ago when you spoke at the SBT Ministers’ Wives luncheon. I was so “star-struck” that I just gulped and walked past you- you said, “Hello!” and I replied in kind. I’ve regretted that awkward moment for years because I missed the opportunity to tell you in person how God’s used you in my life. So may I now say to you , “Thank you for sharing your life with us. I love Jesus and His Word more partly because of your ministry. God truly sent His Word and healed me. He’s reshaped, remolded, and reconstructed my life. You were a part of that rebuilding and I thank you.”

    • 158.1
      Beth says:

      You are so gracious, Deborah. I would have been so blessed to chat with you. It is my honor to serve a minister’s wife. I know you must give all that you have and some days more than you have. May Jesus continue to make Himself to vivid to you.

  9. 159
    Sue Alice says:

    Beth,

    So sorry for your lost. My prayes are with you. Was not Mrs. Mary Beth with you when you taped “When People do UnGodly Things” I think I rememeber seeing there, and thinking “what a wonderful person she must be, loving smile.”

    Blessing,

    Sue Alice.

  10. 160
    Kayla Moore says:

    I am so sorry for your loss!

  11. 161
    GJ says:

    Beth – Although I never knew her, I’m so thankful for Mrs. Mary Helen. I thank you for sharing this tribute. Because she invested in you and poured into your life and ministry – you’ve been able to pour into my life. And it goes on as I mentor young women now. Oh Lord – let me be a Mary Helen for your glory. May God bless her family and hold you all close.

    Much love,
    GJ

  12. 162
    Pam Houston says:

    Oh Dearest Beth and Amanda and Melissa, my heart just aches for you all. This morning while watching the funeral for Whitney Houston, the powerful preacher, TD Jakes spoke about how love endures all things, even the pain and seperation of death…and ended with “God is love.” What love your precious Mrs. Mary Helen demonstrated all those many years ago when she recognized the powerful spark of anointing emanating from you! And what a tribute to her to be a pillar in Living Proof Minitry…from tapes to computers and all things digital…and how your ministry has expanded and refined in the process. My prayer is that I too will be living and geniune proof of the reality of our wonderful LORD and a guarantee of heaven forever with Him. One glad day, over there, I expect I will get the pleasure of meeting Mrs. Mary Ellen and thank her for her vision. I am a life who is changed.

  13. 163

    All Beth has said about Mary Helen is true. I know; she was my dad’s cousin. Her daughter Ann and I are only 3 months apart and have spent many summers together. Mary Helen was always so kind and hospitable.

    Before my family and I moved to Malaysia with The Department of State in 1993, Mary made sure I had a few tapes from her Sunday School class to help feed me while we looked for a new church home. The tapes were of Beth. They blessed me and many others as they were passed around the ex-pat community during our 3 year tour.

    Mary Helen was one of the most loving, dedicated, and self-less people I have ever known. I think I will miss her laugh most of all.

    • 163.1
      Beth says:

      Hi, Dee! Such a blessing to hear from you! I loved hearing you call Carol Ann just by the name Ann. That’s how Mrs. Mary Helen always referenced her to me. I hope to see you at the service or visitation.

  14. 164
    WendyBrz says:

    What a treasure to have loved and to have been so loved. I’m praying that the pain of your grief will be softened by the wonderful, sweet joy of your memories of this adorable lady. Thank You, Lord, for the Mrs. Mary Helens You give us!!

  15. 165
    Jennifer T says:

    Beth –
    This is such a beautiful tribute. Can you even imagine the song He is singing over His Mrs. Mary Helen right now? THAT is a tape I wish I could get my hands on! Bless you in your remembering. And in your grief. Thanks for giving us a chance to thank Jesus for her, too.

  16. 166
    Kathy B says:

    Sweet Beth, Amanda, Melissa and LPM Ladies,
    Praying God’s comfort poured out on tremendously sore hearts. And may God be praised for the “Mama Mentors” He infuses into our lives. Those that nurture us, cluck over us and push us to places that never occur to us. And while the Mary Helen’s of the world are irreplaceable, may we look for opportunities to lend a hand of encouragement to those dear ones climbing up that hill behind us.

  17. 167

    Carolyn let me know the other night that Mrs. Mary Helen’s home going would be soon. Mrs. Mary Helen, I first knew her as Carol Ann’s mom but soon came to know and love her as a friend. She made the best choc chip cookies. One of my favorite things when I was on staff at HFBC was to check in at the lobby around 4:00 on LPM Tuesday nights to see if all was well and if your staff and volunteers needed anything. That also meant I would get to visit with Mrs. Mary Helen. What a joy, what an encourager and I came away from each encounter knowing who I wanted to be like when I grew up. Whether it was on Tuesday nights, Water’s Edge or Dayspring, with her kindness and beautiful smile, she was an ambassador for Christ and for you and LPM.

  18. 168
    Brenda says:

    Such a wonderful testimony of a wonderful life, she sounds like she was a perfect jewel! If only we all could have a mentor and cheerleader like that along side of us. My heart goes out to you all and I pray God’s comfort and strength will be with you all as you say your goodbyes.

  19. 169
    Sharon says:

    I’m so sorry to hear about your loss. What a wonderful friend and mentor! You wrote such a beautiful tribute to her – thank you for sharing.

  20. 170
    april lopez says:

    Dear Siesta Mama Beth,

    I am so sorry for your loss!! Thank you so much for sharing Mary Helen with us. Our lives are so much richer for each Mary Helen that God brings into our lives. I praise God for Him depositing is love into your life as well as many others through her. ๐Ÿ™‚ I look forward to that day that I as well will meet her in Glory!!
    Blessings dear one!!!!!

  21. 171
    april lopez says:

    Oops! I meant His love ๐Ÿ™‚

  22. 172
    Lisa D. says:

    Oh Beth. My very own sweet mother entered the presence of Jesus on Wednesday morning! How I hope the two of them have met and are praising Him together.

  23. 173
    Marsha R. says:

    I can’t wait to meet her when I get to heaven. I have a friend that is just as dear to me, so I know you are feeling a big loss. Praying comfort and hugs on your family and Mrs. Mary Helen’s family.

  24. 174
    Delaney says:

    That was beautiful. Thank you for sharing Mrs. Mary Helen with us.

  25. 175
    Jean M. says:

    What a sweet tribute. So sorry for your loss. We all could hope to have a Mrs. Mary Helen in our lives!

    • 175.1
      Jean M. says:

      I did have a “Mrs. Mary Helen” in my life who “mothered” me as a young wife and young mom until she moved away. I learned so much from her and was loved on a lot by her. Your post is motivating me to call and reconnect with her.

  26. 176
    Kelley says:

    I so believe I love her too, even after never meeting her! But your loving tribute to Mrs. Mary Helen is beautiful like I know she is! No doubt God sent her to you, or you to her and how wonderful that God’s love was is so present in your lives.

  27. 177
    Annette says:

    It such a joy when the Lord puts someone line Mrs. Mary Helen Davis in our lives, especially when the season is a long and loving one. I pray for our Lord to comfort all those who are grieving her death.

  28. 178
    Donna Hilton says:

    What a gift to have a “Mrs. Mary Helen” in your life. When we first moved in our house, we were surrounded by dear, precious ladies who blessed my life beyond measure. Our mothers have a role in our lives that cannot be replaced — but the “Mrs. Mary Helen’s” are precious pearls that are such rich gifts — so thank you for giving me the opportunity to remember mine — Mrs. Michon, Mrs. Gibbs and Ms. Janet — oh, how I miss them and all they brough into my life.

  29. 179
    Julie says:

    Beth, I have been looking online for an obituary/funeral notice for Mrs. Mary Helen and I’m not finding any. Do you know of any? I would love to read her obit.
    Thanks so much,
    Julie

  30. 180
    Elle Bee says:

    Beth,

    Your words and dedication moved me as if I knew her too.

    Thank you.

  31. 181
    Cathy S. says:

    I had several in my life like Mrs. Mary Helen. I praise God for them. Now, that I am older and kids have left home, I praise God for making me a Mrs. Cathy in some young moms’ lives. God is good like that. Full circle. And some day, I will join hands with my “Mrs. Mary Helen” and my young moms in heaven and won’t it be a glorious celebration! Praying for your famiyl and Mrs. Mary Helen’s as you both grieve your loss and celebrate her gain.

  32. 182
    Patti says:

    What a lovely tribute.
    My prayers are with you and your family.
    Patti Hayes

  33. 183
    Stefani says:

    Apsolutely beautiful tribute!

  34. 184
    Elizabeth Strahan says:

    Isn’t God gracious to put people in our lives right in our path to strengthen and love us as we grow. He did that for me too and not in the same capacity as she was to Beth, but in another support way from a mothering figure right across the street who encouraged me as I raised my children, learned to sew, and went through life’s trials. I lost her four years ago and even though my children are adults now, I love and miss her greatly. Mentoring is such a wonderful way to show love. God places these women in our life just as we need them. He is all knowing! Praise God.

  35. 185
    Heidi says:

    What a living Testimony to Titus 2:4 -5! Thank you for sharing. I praise God even more now, and am grateful for my mentor who is just like Mrs. Mary Helen.

  36. 186
    Hannah Crain says:

    what a beautiful story. thanks for the sweet tears after reading the amazing story! reminds me of a little lady at my church that’s one of my best friends! i’m 26 and she’s 76! just a few years different. she encourages me and cares and shows God’s kindness like no other! i’m just the wife of a pastor/seminary student out in a small town in the country — and mrs. mackie has showed me such kindness, grace, and beautiful picture of woman in love with the Lord!

  37. 187
    lavonda says:

    My grandmother, Minnie Ola, was my Mary Helen. Unconditional love and support for 36 years. Even when I screwed up, she loved me, she was there for me. I was tearing up reading your precious tribute to Mary Helen, but when I got to the part about KNOWING I was loved… then came the flood. What a perfect summary. While I have a mama, who I’m sure loves me (but just doesn’t show it much), I’m blessed beyond measure to have known the palpable love of my grandmother, who WAS my second mother. She met Jesus face to face almost 6 years ago. I still have some saved voicemail messages from her that I listen to now and then when the missing her hurts so much. Which it does often.

    Hugs and prayers for your family and Carol Ann’s family as the missing her sets in deep. If you (or anyone reading this) didn’t see Whitney Houston’s funeral today, google what TD Jakes said… it’s 5 minutes that will bless anyone who’s lost someone they love.
    Death is certain, but it does. not. win.
    What joy to know we WILL see our loved ones again! Thank You Jesus!

  38. 188
    Sadee says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss of your beloved friend and mentor. And thank you for the reminder to tell my mentors how much they mean to me….I want to honor them while I can. Thank you.
    I hope this week is so special remembering her….she sounds so special!!

  39. 189
    Amy says:

    Im sorry for your loss.

    What a blessing she was to you & your family and ministry. What a legacy she left behind her! Encouragement and love, serving others. That is a life fully lived and worthy of celebrating! Thank you for sharing her story with us who have benefitted from your ministry. Please tell her family thank you. (her life reminds me of that ray Boltzmann song the lyrics were “thank you for giving to the Lord. I was a life that was changed. Thank you for giving to the Lord. I am so glad that you gave”)

  40. 190
    Fran Plott says:

    Dear Beth,
    Your sweet tribute to your Mrs. Mary Helen is so heartfelt and touching…I am feeling as if I knew her as I read this. She was instrumental in putting you into my life as my mentor and teacher, so I suppose she did, after all, influence my life. I rejoice with you in knowing she is with Jesus, and I sincerely feel your sorrow in missing a wonderful friend.

    I had the joy of “meeting you” in Pensacola in December for the LPL Secret Siesta meeting. Thank you for the hug and a very meaningful experience and photo. You are so precious to me,
    Love,
    Fran
    Gulf Shores

  41. 191
    ErinD says:

    May the Good Lord grant that I be a Mrs. Mary Helen to somebody someday and may I have my wits about enough to step up when He calls.

  42. 192
    T says:

    Dearest Beth…

    Your loving arms have enfolded so many women, me being one of them. I shed tears of grief and joy from your story of this Amazing testimony of God’s providence which you first taught me to see through Esther. He truly sent her to you and planted the seed of your ministry to us all. Oh my, on my knees, Praise God! Thank you for loving as you do! May you feel what you long for at this time, her loving hugs, at the least through this blog of woman who’s lives you have truly changed forever!

  43. 193
    Darlene Chiasson says:

    “And my entire life was changed in those arms.” completely “puddled” me. I did not know your blessing, but by the end of this blog I was nothing but a mess of heaving sobs. I will be praying for all of you as you celebrate her homegoing. Your expression of love touched my heart to the point where I believe it may change my life. I pray that someone’s life will be changed in my arms and Mrs. Mary Helen’s example will lead the way. Thank you for sharing your grief and allowing us to know her too.

  44. 194
    traci says:

    Oh Beth, I’m so sorry for this loss in your life. I pray that God will gift you with all sorts of memories and sweet moments you may have forgotten throughout the years of loving and living life with Mary Helen. You have honored her well here. Thanks for sharing a bit of this beautiful woman with us.

  45. 195
    theHarborMom says:

    Beth, thank you for the post. I was brought to tears as I thought about the women in my life who has poured into me and my children. God has called us to a serve a church (my man is a pastor) that is far from both of our families. It is women like these who step in, loving us like their own family, and bless my heart full to bursting. I’m not sure why, and I don’t ask. I just soak in the blessing and do my best to fully love in return. And then, I’m inspired. I don’t want to just receive, but I want to be able to turn at the right time and reach out to a young mom and her children/family and love them like my own as well. I want to live as I’ve had lived into me. I am grateful for Mrs. Mary Helen, a women I’ve never met. I am also fruit of her labor because of LPM.

  46. 196
    Tara says:

    My mom still has some of those tapes. I used to listen to them, too. ๐Ÿ™‚ God really used her!

  47. 197
    moosemama says:

    Over the years I have heard you speak her name, but never saw her face. She looks so very much like my own grandmother. What a tender, sweet tribute. I am so sorry for the loss of this dear woman, to your family.

    Oh, but to KNOW she is with Jesus!!! Such joy over a race run well!

    Melana

  48. 198
    Sparki2003 says:

    Miss Beth,

    Could someone put a link up on the blog for Mrs. Mary Helen’s obituary, please ? Even if it is after the services . . . so that I/we may be able to pray more specifically for the family members, etc . . . Please ???

    In Christ’s Love,

    Jennifer O.
    southern Wisconsin

  49. 199
    Susan says:

    I am so sorry for your great loss, Beth. What a beautiful tribute to a wonderful woman. Her reward in Heaven must be great, indeed. Thank you for sharing this with us.
    Blessings to you,
    Susan

  50. 200
    moongirl says:

    I completely bawled over this. I am in the beginning stages of what God is pointedly calling me to in ministry, with two small children of my own (3 and 1), and I can only imagine what it must have meant to you to have Mrs. Mary Helen come and inform you that God was calling her to help you! WOW! That alone made me cry as I know what it feels like to be under enormous pressure and do it all yourself… And then the role she’s played in your family life and with your children…. I’m just so sorry for this significant loss! I am heartbroken for all of you! “He heals the broken hearted, and binds up their wounds!” Praise Him! Even in her death, she is glorifying God!

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