If you walk into a certain quiet bedroom-turned-office on a small street in an out of the way subdivision, you will find a quiet area of study and reflection. Soft colored walls are painted with Scripture in lovely script. Prayer prompts are taped to the walls over a warm wooden desk. The desktop has a variety of pens used to write in the spiritual journal which sits to the side. Next to the desk is a bookshelf filled with Bibles and books dedicated to spiritual topics and spiritual growth. The bottom of the bookshelf is a small cupboard filled with resources to give away.
Who owns this office, and who is beckoned there every day by a love for Christ? This is not the office of a great missionary or theologian, but rather of a humble yet passionate Christian woman – my mom, Linda Vande Zande.
Linda’s name may never grace the cover of books written on heroes of the faith, and yet, to so many, her faith has led them to a deeper knowledge of God. When my mom had major surgery in the past month, we faced the small possibility that she might not survive the surgery. And while the possibility was truly small, and the surgery went well and her recovery has been (mostly) smooth, it made me think about my mom being called home to Christ. What if He said to her, “Well done my good and faithful servant; come to your eternal rest”?
This thought prompted me to consider the spiritual impact of my mom’s life. Her office is a small picture of a life which has been dedicated to and directed by Christ, both for herself and for those around her.
The parts of Linda’s life that I know best started, of course, with her motherhood. As a child, I didn’t realize how much motherhood is sacrifice, but now as an adult and a parent I see how much she gave up in order to be an excellent mom. She did this because she considered motherhood her calling from God. She saw her family as her first and highest priority. But not only did she pour into her family, she extended her service to others in a similar phase of life. She led the homeschool group and served on the board at Fond du Lac Christian School, touching many families and encouraging them in their faith journeys. Even today she reminds me that family is a person’s most important ministry.
As her kids grew and needed less immediate care, Linda started working as a speech therapist. But even with new job responsibilities, she used her extra time to continue pouring into other people to help them grown in the Lord. Through Bible studies, teaching classes, and mentoring, she continued to pour into others and lead them toward a deeper relationship with Christ. Her favorite way to do this was through studying the book of John. I remember in particular when she told me with great excitement that a therapist she had worked with but who had quit due to health issues, had began to show an interest in spiritual things. Linda asked if she would like to study John together. Through their relationship, this woman came to faith in Christ. What a day of joy!
When her kids finally “left the nest”, Linda had another decision to make. What was her ministry now? Again she chose to pour into the spiritual lives of others, this time by diving into prison ministry. Prison ministry requires a balance between discernment, ability to teach, and compassion. It is the perfect balance for Linda, who becomes invested in the lives and spiritual growth of these women, while being able to discern their spiritual needs and to teach them. Seeing these women embrace Christ and grow in Him despite difficult pasts has been her joy.
Underneath all of these things has been a constant desire to grow closer to God herself. Linda has always immersed herself in learning. Her stack of books to read is growing as fast as her stack of books that have been read! Beyond studying, she is invested in growing closer to Christ through other spiritual disciplines, especially prayer. It is as she relies on Christ that she is able to reach out in action to others.
I am happy that God did not call Mom home quite yet. But, I am also thankful for the opportunity to look at the impact of her spiritual life. It is an encouragement to see her dedication as a “quiet hero” of the faith. We look at the heroes that have books written about them and wonder if we will ever reach their level of spirituality. But my mom is proof that any person fully dedicated to Christ is a hero of faith. I am blessed to have this Woman of Faith as my mom.