Jane Lamb

Mom’s Legacy (part 3): Studying the Bible

My last two blogs have been about my mom who passed away two weeks ago.  There’s part of me that thinks I should move on to other topics, but I just can’t manage to do that.  And there’s so much good material.  And I suspect it’s going to help me in the grief process.  So if you’re tired of hearing about Jane Lamb, then perhaps you should check back on my blog in a few weeks.

My mom started a Bible study for women in Ames, Iowa (where we grew up) in the late 1960’s with her friend Win Stanford, whose husband John was a colleague of my dad’s in the Physics Department at Iowa State.  In these types of Bible studies, the leader would ask text-focused questions, encouraging the women to discover the meaning of the text for themselves.  (I’ve heard of “Bible studies” that watch videos, or read Christian books, both of which can be great, but I wouldn’t call either of those a “Bible study.”  This may be controversial, but in a “Bible study,” I think you should study the Bible.)  The leader was not the expert who enlightened others, but simply a question-asker who empowered others to encounter God in his word directly.

The initial Bible study became popular (part of the popularity may have been due to the fact that they provided child-care) and the group got big, so big that they had to split into two groups, and then those groups grew and also needed to split.  I think it’s supposed to be called “multiplying,” but I prefer “splitting” because it is painful.  Splitting was always hard relationally, but they knew that if more women were to be included, they would need to keep dividing.  They decided it was worth the cost relationally to be inclusive.

Over the course of the next twenty years, the initial group led by Mom and Win became twenty Bible study groups scattered around Ames, with hundreds of women involved.

In 1979, Mom wrote a history of the Bible studies in Ames, listing the benefits to herself (these are her words):

1) Friendship.  The women I know best are the ones I study the Bible with each week.  I express my needs, joys and the express theirs.  We get to know each other much better than casual friendships allow.

2) I am learning more about the Bible.  I am learning the stories, the chronology and the thread of Christ running from Genesis to Revelation.  But more importantly, I am learning that God speaks to me for my life, for my problems, for my successes today thru his word.  And it is life changing.

3) I am learning more about myself. I am not introspective (I’m like mom in this regard), and do not think thru all my actions and motives.  But as God speaks to me thru his word, I understand more clearly my motives behind these actions.

4) I get to know God better.  And I desire to serve Him more.  I want to see others come to know him.

These words of Mom were included in the program for her memorial service at Calvary Baptist Church of Lexington, Kentucky on August 11, 2012.  Her legacy continues. 

Grieving mom

I’ve been overwhelmed by the support, encouragement and comfort from friends and even strangers responding to my blog about the death of my mom and the associated post on Facebook.  The last blog post received more comments than any of the previous 180 posts I’ve written in my 15 months of blogging.  Thank you.

I have a few observations about the grieving process.

I don’t understand grief very well.  My wife Shannon’s brother Randall passed away on June 21, 2012 (see post here) and I didn’t do a good job of caring for her while she was grieving.  My family has been great since we heard the news about mom on Aug. 4, but I’ve had a heard time receiving care and knowing what to do.  I do know, however, that it helped to blog about mom on Saturday because it gave me an opportunity to stare at pictures of her, to reflect and cry.  Hopefully, my grieving process with mom will help me be a better friend to people in pain.

Pictures help.  They help me at least.  My mom didn’t look too good at the end, so it has been really helpful to just go over family pictures growing up when we all looked younger.  My family spent part of the evening together last night listening to me talk about photos of our family vacations.  With my mom gone, it helps for my family to have more points of contact with her and my background.  We did something similar when Randall passed away.  It’s difficult to see some of those pictures and not get emotional, but I think that’s the point.  (Photo 1: Mom, older brother Rich and me, apparently not wanting a picture; Photo 2: Mom, her mom and me at high school graduation.  My photos have focused on mom and me because I’m not sure family members would approve of certain photos involving them.)

Specific memories help.  It’s has helped to hear specific things from people who actually knew mom.  Many of you never knew her and your remarks have blessed me in ways you can’t imagine, but there is something particularly moving about hearing from people who knew her, were affected by her, or can see her impact on me and my family.

I’m falling behind on my Psalm 119 blogging, but I’ll get back to that soon because I know mom would want me to stay focused on God and God’s word even as we grieve her absence.

Jane O. Lamb (1925-2012)

My mom passed away today. 

I’m sad.

In addition to rides on her back, Mom gave me many things, a sense of humor, a value for asking questions, but most significantly, she gave me a love for the Bible.  I have vivid memories of three ways she passed on her deep appreciation for Scripture.

When my brothers and I were young, before going to bed she would read to us from John Maxwell’s classic 10 volume retelling of the Bible, The Bible Story (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Bible_Story).

When my brothers and I fought (those rare occasions), she made us copy word-for-word the entire chapter of 1 Corinthians 13, Paul’s chapter on love.  OK, so perhaps this practice didn’t contribute to my love for Scripture, but it explains why I prefer the gospels to the epistles.

When we were older, Mom would have us we’d read the Bible after dinner and discuss it as a family.  When I was young people would say I looked like my mom.  I hope people can now see her love for Scripture in me.

Mom had Alzheimer’s.  (This picture of Dad and Mom was taken at InterVarsity’s Campus-by-the-Sea on Catalina Island.)  Dad has been caring for her for the past 10 years or so, visiting her twice daily since she moved into a care facility five years ago.  Dad loved mom.  In a few weeks, they would have celebrated 53 years together.

Goodbye mom.  Enjoy being with Jesus.  I miss you.