October 9, 2020

She Loved Well

Written by Boyd Bailey

Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – October 9, 2020

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints. Psalm 116:15

In honor of my mother-in-law, Jean Isbill, this is the letter I wrote to her that I read at her eulogy three weeks ago:

Dear Mama Jean,

You loved well. You loved so well. You loved better than anyone I’ve ever met. Thank you!

I do not have any mother-in-law jokes, because you are by far the best mother-in-law ever to walk the planet. And I call you Mama Jean since you loved me like my mama! You loved me unconditionally when I was a teenager, by letting me play ping pong at your house, feeding me and allowing me to date your daughter. Your love attracted me to God’s love

I remember you visiting us in grad school, and on one of your first trips, calling me out for having so many books. You quipped, “It’s a wonder this baby has any shoes with all these books!” And then you proceeded to take Rita to grocery shop filling three grocery carts to overflowing with food. And I am sure you picked up some shoes for Rebekah on the way. Your generous love inspired me to be a generous lover. When we didn’t have two nickels to rub together, you shared your extra!

I am so grateful for how you loved Rita and our girls. Your love gave them 100% acceptance and understanding of who God created them to be, and because of your unconditional love, their capacity to love expands to their children, family, friends and strangers. You loved our girls.

I remember Bethany calling you collect from summer camp in California, fearful and anxious, and you listened to her heart and loved her. No judgment! I remember you attending Anna’s graduation and beaming with pride, you valued her for who she was and for who she would become. I remember you attending Rachel’s wedding and I wasn’t sure if you, Rita or Rachel were the bride, because your beauty radiated through the room. You were so proud of Rachel for marrying the one who, as a couple, would serve and love others! 

And of course, I remember you traveling to South Africa with us, reminding me of an attractive truth, “Boyd, there are a lot of good people here.”  “Yes, there are,” I mused. Of course she found good people because she was a profoundly good person. We find who we are looking for. You were also our inspiration to scale the highest point on the southernmost edge of South Africa with the wind whirling at gale like gusts. You despised wind, but you had no fear and made it to the top. We all followed you–mesmerized and amazed. We followed you to the top, and we still follow you to emulate your rare love. Travel and adventure energized you, as you supported Rebekah and Todd’s great adventure from the deep south to the deeper south!

I remember when you took Rita to Japan. Ha! Bravely both of you explored a world with little or no English, but you were full of life to experience life and love people different from you. Kneeling with your Japanese kimonos and new Japanese friends, drinking coca cola and fishy food. Yes, you loved to experiment by eating dishes you never had eaten. I knew we had bonded when we ate off of each other’s plates, because we were both drawn to exotic eats.

And need I say how you loved James. You loved him like he wanted and needed to be loved. Maybe even spoiled him by grooming his hair each day, you probably would have shaved him if you knew it would have blessed him. As a young husband, lest I got too excited at anticipating this level of attention from a wife to her husband, your daughter set expectations with me, “You are not marrying my mother!” Rita cracked, though very serious. In other words, “Don’t expect to be spoiled like my momma spoils my dad!” 

Mama Jean you loved your family like Jesus loves them, you laid down your life for us. You motivated us all with selfless love, now you are with perfect love—Jesus Christ! You loved well. You loved so well. You loved better than anyone I’ve ever met. 

You showed a fatherless boy how to be loved by my heavenly Father and how to love people well. 

Your love will inspire me to my last breath. Enjoy being with Jesus. Laughing. Dancing. Singing. Praising. See you soon Mama Jean Isbill! I love you, Boyd 

“Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well” (1 John 5:1).


Dear lover of my soul, thank you for your precious saints who show me how to love well, in Jesus’ name, Amen.


Whose love do I take for granted that I need to reach out and love well?

Related Reading

Psalm 23:1-6; Proverbs 31:10-31; John 11:21-27, 14:1-4; 2 Corinthians 5:1-10; Philippians 2:1-5

Check out Boyd’s newest 40 day devotional book: Wisdom For Living

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We tend to find the people we look for—good people find good people. #possessions #WisdomHunters #truth #Jesus

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