What I Learned from My “Other” Mother


I have a Godly mom from whom I’ve learned so much about life and faith. But I’ve also been blessed to have a “second mom” who filled in when my mom couldn’t be there and taught me things that only she could.

What started as a friendship with her daughters when my family moved to a new town in my senior year of high school turned into gaining a second family. I don’t have all the photographs, but the snapshots in my memory are filled with pictures of “Mom” Keller.

For a period of time I spent more Thanksgivings with the Keller family than I did my own when I wasn’t able to leave town because of work.

After my parents moved away and my temporary roommate situation ended, Mom Keller opened her home to me for several months. I cherished that time while I worked at a local TV station but applied to ministry positions to see where God would lead me. Her prayers and encouragement were the next best thing to having my own mom there.

You know you’re family when it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been away, but the relationship picks right up when you return. I left town for a couple years to follow ministry opportunities, but when I returned, “Mom” Keller stepped right back into her role as Mom away from Mom for me:

-My surprise 30th birthday party started at her house.
-She and “Pop” Keller counseled and encouraged Dean and I through our (very long) dating relationship.
-She hosted my wedding shower.

They moved to the Northwest not long after our wedding, but we were blessed to once again resume our relationship when we moved to Portland for seminary. Dean and I stayed with them for several days while we got our new home settled. It was such a blessing to leave the paint brushes and boxes behind and come back to a warm meal and warmer fellowship. When we returned from a Christmas trip to broken pipes, we stayed with them while we got our water turned back on.

When our car broke down near their home, they loaned us one of theirs. Even after they moved an hour away, they were present at many milestones—they were even our first visitors in the hospital when our first son was born.M.P.K.sm

We enjoyed many lunches along the Columbia river when we drove east to escape the gray in Portland. When we visited their home there was always tea and a meal and Mom Keller happily took the role as designated baby-holder.M.K.D. sm

Mom Keller and I shared one other unique thing in common–being married to men in ministry. In her quiet, un-preaching way she was such a good example of being the woman God intended her to be.

Mom Keller never sought to be the center attention, she didn’t seek the most obvious ministry positions. She didn’t take on roles or responsibilities simply because of expectation or tradition, but served genuinely in ways that matched her gifting and supported her husband. At the time, I didn’t even realize what an influence that would have on my future.

Above everything, I think I most appreciated her sincere care and faithful prayers for me and all of my family. Whether we got to see one another regularly or not, I know we were in her heart and prayers. I knew I was always accepted and always welcome.

Mom Keller gave of herself until her last day on this earth. A couple of months ago, after running for help for another resident of her community, she collapsed into the arms of Jesus. I will miss her greatly until I get to drop by her heavenly home to catch up over a cup of tea.

Greater love has no one than this; that one lay down (her) life for (her) friends. (John 15:13)

Do you have someone who’s been a substitute mom to you? Are you that person in someone else’s life?

5 Responses to What I Learned from My “Other” Mother
  1. Peggy Staples
    April 25, 2013 | 5:25 pm

    Mary, What a precious tribute to a beautiful women of God. She was much to me also. With Pastor Deane being my very 1st pastor after coming to the Lord, Doris was a great encourager. I will always remember one statement she made to me, after an evening with women from the church, “North Baptist” at the time. I volunteered to take her home afterwards, a comment was made, you don’t need to take the preachers wife home, my response, she not the preachers wife, she is my friend. Doris response, That was the best tribute I have ever gotten. This was back in the 60’s, Marilee and Ruth were young as were my older 2, They were so dear to us, we kept in contact over the years, After North the friendship continued, only they became Uncle Deane and Aunt Doris to my boys. When Mark was born, I ask Deane if I could use his name as Mark’s middle name, His response, only if you spell it the same as My mother spelled mine. So it was Mark Deane. You know both parties. God is good!!

    • Mary
      April 25, 2013 | 6:05 pm

      Peggy, thanks for sharing this. I never knew the story behind your connection to the Kellers. And I didn’t realize it’s Mark Deane (my Dean has his name spelled wrong!).

      I love that the family of God is so small, and how our paths intersect and overlap in ways we don’t always know. You are precious to us as our son’s first Sunday School teacher. It was in your class that our oldest came to understand who Jesus is. The cycle continues!

  2. Charis
    April 25, 2013 | 11:52 pm

    Mary, what a beautiful gift you got from this lady. She sounds like someone I look forward to getting to know in eternity.

  3. Sue McAlinden
    April 26, 2013 | 3:13 pm

    What a beautiful tribute and a beautifully written article, Mary.

  4. Missy
    April 29, 2013 | 3:34 pm

    Your Mom Keller sounds like a precious gift from the God who knows and loves us so. He knew what you needed, and provided it. Thank you for sharing this rememberance with us, Mary. And, for reminding us, through it, that Moms come in so many different ways.