A Tribute to My Godly and Wholesome Mother
written by Pastor Robert Vradenburgh
Lola Munro Vradenburgh was a woman, a wife, and a mother. She was not superhuman. She was only 5’1″—never played basketball, never pumped iron, never went to college, never gave a speech—not even before other women. But her life spoke eloquently for itself, and her God-given inner strength passed on to her eight children. Like the Proverbs 31 woman, she girded herself with strength (Proverbs 31:17). That strength was in the Lord. When faced continually with situations in which she felt utterly inadequate, she embraced them, saying with David, I will go in the strength of the LORD God (Psalm 71:16b).
This amazing mother passed suddenly and peacefully into Heaven almost nine years ago, but some things that she instilled in me are etched indelibly on my mind and heart. They are woven into the warp and woof of my being.
Mom modeled and instilled in me a love for God’s Word. She helped my seven siblings and me read from the Bible at the daily family altar. She would be a keen listener to the reciting of verses we memorized. She was the epitome of the scriptural term “keeper at home” (Titus 2:5). I could never imagine my mother working outside the home, although she did not judge those who did!
She modeled and instilled in me a love for good music. I was still quite young when my paternal grandfather died, and when my father received a small inheritance, he and Mom agreed to buy what was then a state-of-the-art stereo system. Mom kept record albums of good music playing on that stereo constantly. I knew more about George Beverly Shea and Gene Payne than I did about Elvis Presley and John Lennon! I listened to the arrangements of their music until I could duplicate them on the piano.
She had received only three years of piano lessons herself, but she taught us to harmonize and did her best to accompany us. By the time we were three and four, my twin brother, oldest sister, and I were singing trios. Dad would introduce us as the “singing beehive” – Billy, Bobby, and Becky. Those “bees” multiplied until Brenda, Benny, Beth, Barry, and Bonnie joined the chorus! I can still sing by heart most of the songs she taught us.
Mom modeled and instilled in me a love for missionaries. At Dad’s direction, she kept the checkbook, and monthly support checks to missionaries were the priority. Our humble home became a haven of hospitality for guest missionaries. We were fascinated with their stories, their pictures, their improvised musical instruments, and even their unique smells! She told us the stories of the five missionaries speared to death on Palm Beach in Ecuador in 1956 and of the martyrdom of John and Betty Stam in China in 1949. No mother could have been more supportive of her missionary children than my mother was of my sister in Canada and of me in the Cayman Islands.
My mother never taught a ladies’ Bible class, but many mothers would seek her out for advice in raising their children. She never wrestled with balancing the demands of motherhood and other ministry responsibilities, because motherhood WAS her ministry! She magnified the office of motherhood and honored its sanctity.
If younger mothers feeling discouraged or overwhelmed with the daily grind of domestic duty were to ask my mother today for encouragement and support in their faith, I think I know the essence of what she would tell them:
Simplify your responsibilities. Don’t try to be a supermom or feel pressured to “keep up with the Joneses.”
Magnify your office as a mother. Find fulfillment in “molding a masterpiece” with love in the home.
Sanctify your heart. Keep it pure, true, and wholesome. Make prayer your native breath. If you’re too busy to write a “letter” to God, send a “postcard.”
Edify your husband. Build him up. Help him be a success in the eyes of God.
My mother told me shortly before she died that she and Dad had prayed that one of their sons would be a preacher of the Gospel. How indebted I am to a godly mother whose prayers continue to follow me!