Ode to Four Mothers

“God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.” 1 John 4

Happy Mother’s Day. Or, as it was known in England when I grew up, Mothering Sunday.

As you can probably guess, here around Maul-Hall the traditional, “Give mama the day off” doesn’t really fly. First, I already do the cooking. Second, the mama in this house is preaching both services at WFPC, so a casual breakfast in bed, or brunch at the restaurant simply isn’t going to happen.

But I do appreciate the idea of a day designed for gratitude, and to suggest that we all give pause and acknowledge the tremendous potential for good, and most especially for self-giving love, that is set in motion when a woman brings a child into this world and provides a safe, nurturing place to grow.

Four Mothers:

My mum and dad last weekend
My mum and dad last weekend

So I’m going to write just a brief tribute to four of the best mothers I could possibly imagine – faithful, strong, and beautiful women I love and appreciate well beyond the reach of these few stumbling words. My mum, Grace; my late mother-in-law, Nelle; my amazing wife, Rebekah; and our wonderful daughter, Naomi.

Grace: First, the brave and patient woman who took on the challenging task of raising both me and my late brother, Geoff. Grace Ellen Watts Maul has shown to me what is possible – the durability and the potency of unconditional, faithful, love.

Love, my mum has demonstrated, is a choice that you back up with action. Her kind of love is the First Corinthians 13:7 kind – “Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance… (Love never fails).”

Rebekah’s mama:

Nelle and Bob Alexander
Nelle and Bob Alexander in the 1990’s

Next, Nelle Alexander. I had the privilege of loving Nelle as my mother-in-law for 20 years. Rebekah’s mama immediately took me under her wing as a kindred minister’s spouse, and poured herself into our family.

She taught me everything from, “Be prepared, because you never know who the preacher is bringing home for lunch,” to, “Make sure your home is a safe-place where Rebekah can recharge,” to the BIG one, “Derek, you only have to know three things: Love the Lord; Love the preacher; Love the church.”

Nelle Alexander was a Colossians 3 kind of a mother – She “clothed herself with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” We miss you, grandmama Nelle.


Rebekah with the grandkids
Rebekah with the grandkids

Third, my awesome wife, Rebekah. From the moment that she first became a mother (Father’s Day, 1982), Rebekah has applied the love, creativity, energy, passion, and belief that also characterizes her ministry.

Because Rebekah is the mother of two such beyond-our-best-dreams children, she has grown in otherwise unimaginable love; and – because Andrew and Naomi are Rebekah’s children – they have grown into the quality of young adult that wouldn’t have been possible outside of such creative, loving, mothering.

God’s love dwells in Rebekah – it’s a 1 John 4 quality of love: “God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.”


Naomi, David, Craig, Beks
Naomi, David, Craig, Beks

Finally, our daughter, Naomi. She’s “mommie” to our grandchildren, David and Beks. Naomi is such a very good mother. She is patient – more so than we were; she is calm – way beyond what we demonstrated; she is wise and reasonable – Lord knows where that came from? she grasps the teachable moments, she’s redirects rather than reacts, she’s a natural parent, she’s consistent, and she’s head-over-heels crazy about her children – and her husband, Craig.

In short, Naomi is an amazing mother and we are so very proud; she’s a Luke 1:42 mother – “God has blessed you above all women, and your children are blessed.”

Happy Mother’s Day to all. And remember, if you want to love with everything you have, make sure and ask God to teach you how to love; it’s the only way – DEREK

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