A mother's lessons passed down

The daughters of Trudy and Gerald Taylor are, from left, Lori Jones, Kayla Barnard and Tina Taylor.

The daughters of Trudy and Gerald Taylor are, from left, Lori Jones, Kayla Barnard and Tina Taylor. Photo by David Wilson.

Trudy Taylor filled many roles in her life. Married to Gerald Taylor, a pastor and full-time employee at Burger's Smokehouse for more than 30 years until his retirement, she was a homemaker and pastor's wife, with all of the responsibilities that entails.

She was the secretary for Racker's Mfg. for many years before becoming disabled due to poor health.

But most of all, she was mother of three daughters, Lori, Tina and Kayla.

Trudy died on Feb. 29, 2012, and is missed by many, but most of all by those three daughters.

As Tina wrote, "Our lives were forever changed a year ago on Feb. 29, when Mama passed away. We were not ready to lose her at our early ages because there were still so many times that we would need Mama. All of us were at different stages in life and facing many different circumstances - sicknesses, new jobs, new responsibilities, decisions, things where a girl just needs her Mama.

"We are learning that she is there when we remember all she had given us with her prayers, her love, her time, her insights, her memories and her legacies. Her final lesson to us is one that we are learning daily in the fact that we indeed are so blessed."

Their mother apparently worked out very well the support necessary for the trials, tribulations and uncertain schedule of being married to a bi-vocational pastor.

How Trudy did it is best summed up by the youngest daughter Kayla.

"Our parents, Gerald and Trudy Taylor, were an amazing team," Kayla said. "We rarely saw the signs of stress and/or fatigue brought on by ministry or conflicts. Daddy is such a positive person that he took everything, even in ministry, in stride.

"I'm sure they discussed it...but never in front of us. Mama stood faithfully by him...offering opinions when needed, but mostly supporting and lifting Daddy up." 

Trudy must have set a really great example. How else can one explain that all three daughters have their own careers, and two of them are married to ministers - one of them bi-vocational?

Tina Taylor recently spoke about lessons, values and faith learned from her mother.

"We are so blessed," said Tina. "If I heard my Mama say that once, I must have heard it hundreds of times. However, it has not been until the past few years that I am beginning to fully understand what she meant.

"I now understand how I was truly blessed to be raised by a mother and father that not many people have. What I thought was common, I learned was far from common. I have discovered that my sisters and I learned about life from one of the best.

"We learned about the good things as well as the curveballs that life can sometimes throw us. We are discovering that these lessons are the things that will guide and direct us now and in the years to come.

"Mama taught us so many things. Things that could make you laugh or make you cry. Things that perhaps you didn't know you were even learning until you find yourself doing them or saying them years later.

"For example, we learned from a young age how to do the tedious tasks of life - dusting by taking things off the dresser not around them, how to separate the laundry into nice little piles, why you need to wash woodwork.

"As we got older, we learned that you really should not go out without your hair and makeup being fixed. As we learned to drive, we learned how to say 'Girls, hold on to what you've got' before quickly pulling out into traffic. As we began to hang out with friends, we learned how to make our home the gathering place where everyone felt invited. She instilled in us how much we were loved and how to truly love and care for others. 

"However, most importantly, Mama taught us about the Lord. Mama (like her Mama) was our family prayer warrior. We always said that if anyone could get through to the Lord, Mama could. We learned that all we needed to do was call Mama and she would immediately call our names out in prayer. But she made sure we knew that we needed to become those prayer warriors because one day she would not be here. She instilled in us the faith that would help us weather the storms of life." 

Kayla Barnard, the youngest daughter, added her own views of her mother.

"Mama was a little spitfire," she said. "She protected her family and girls with a fierce mama bear love. In a not-so-nice world, I needed that! I learned after having Jackson that I had to fight all of his battles for him, because he was too small to do that on his own. I am NOT a confrontational person, so this was hard for me, but who wants to see their child scared because they don't know the person holding them or sad because they were left somewhere new. Eventually they learn how to handle these things on their own, but it's an instinct to protect them as soon as the doctor lays them in your arms. As a way to "protect" us, she always stocked the house with food and fun so we would want to be there rather than somewhere else.

"I think this is where my 'make our home a refuge' mentality comes from. Mama always kept a home that people felt welcomed and even invited to. She opened her arms to friends and family...even if just for a place of rest. At her visitation and funeral we were flabbergasted at how many people called her "mama". She didn't just have three girls, she had a whole truck load of sons and daughters that she had touched along the way. We always had a place to go and others felt loved there too. 

"Mama may not have had all the answers to my never ending line of questions, but she listened. I think this is something I miss the most about her. Now with my own two little ones growing, I look to her for guidance, but she's not there anymore. Since I was the baby, I feel a little lost embarking on Motherhood 'alone'. Lori, on the other hand, had her for so long and now has to do it without her. Tina is in a different boat entirely because she won't ever get to have a mama at her children's births. All of these things are sad to me. For a family who depended on a mama for so many things, we each lost something we desperately needed or wanted when she passed away.

"I can only hope that when my children have children they will remember all these examples she instilled in me that I am hopefully instilling in them. This motherhood thing is a trickle-down effect. Good mamas will hopefully raise more good mamas, who will hopefully raise even more good mamas. Lori and I were both lucky to marry men from good, solid, Christian homes, with loving mamas that loved their sons. Whether we're raising sons or daughters, eventually they will probably have babies of their own so I better make for certain that I've done the best I can with them. I know my mama sure did."

Kayla is a third grade teacher at California Elementary and married to a full-time church pastor.

"This is my first year in this (school) district, but eighth year overall," said Kayla. "Jeremy is pastor at Lebanon Baptist church for over a year, a total of 10 years in ministry. He is a full-time pastor. We have two children-Jackson is five years old and Kennedy is two years old.

"Jeremy and I met when we were in high school together. We were both active in band and choir. We were both trumpet players and also sat by each other in choir. We were good friends for a long time.

"After high school, I went to college in Springfield and he was a senior at California. I realized how much I missed him, called him up in September, and started dating Oct. 2, 2001. We were married in 2005.

"I wanted to be a teacher from the very beginning. I had excellent teachers all through my California years. Mrs. Karen Stock was my first grade teacher and I remember wanting to be just like her one day. I would play school in my room by myself, with friends, with my sisters and I even had my stuffed animals be students.

"One year for Christmas I requested ONLY school/office supplies so I could decorate my room as a school room. My mama obliged and I actually did it."

In addition to her work as a teacher, Kayla has what is really another full-time job, that of pastor's wife.

Expounding on how this is handled, Kayla said, "My first duty as a pastor's wife is to make a comfortable, safe environment for my husband and children to retreat to at the end of the day.

"At home, Jeremy is my husband and the father of my children. He is not 'pastor'. I heard in a play just recently that a pastor's wife should want to walk with her husband, allowing him to follow his leading not because she has to, but because she loves the Lord too. My duty is to help him in any way I can. Sometimes that is just to be his place of rest and normalcy. His job is demanding at all hours everyday. 

"If he has to go, I carry on with our daily routine so the kids have structure and when he comes home he can fall right back into the swing of things. Most of the duties I have as far as church goes, are things I am passionate about as well.

"I sing with the praise team and we lead a children's ministry on Wednesday nights. These are my things and very rarely does he ask me to do anything else. These things do not interfere with my own job any more than other marriages. It's always a team effort."

Kayla commented that they are just learning how to juggle activities with demands of work, sports, school and day care.

"This is a new world for us," she said. "Jackson is just now getting into extracurricular activities. He will be playing t-ball this summer and Jeremy is also coaching. Jackson will also begin Kindergarten in the fall. This year has been extremely different for me because Jeremy takes the kids to the babysitter (which is actually my dad!) and I just pick them up. I have always taken them and picked them up from the sitter so I am feeling pretty spoiled lately. His job allows more freedom to come and go as needed than he's ever had working a 9 to 5 job."

"Raising kids now is different, I'm sure, than when we were kids. However, we are pretty 'old school'. We still sit down at the dinner table at eat every night as a family. We back each other up concerning discipline issues. We expect respect for others and good manners. We attend church together every Sunday morning, evening and Wednesday night as a family.  Our kids are 'church babies' who usually know no stranger, and know every nook and cranny of the church. We were raised by God-fearing parents who demanded no less of us. We know no other way. They showed by example how to love and nurture good children. We are striving to pool all their greatest attributes of parenting. We were blessed to come from good stock." (insert smile :) ).

The oldest of the three daughters is Lori Jones. Her husband Steve is bi-vocational. He works full-time as a Funeral Director at Bowlin-Cantriel Funeral Services and pastors the Church of God of Prophecy, both in California. Lori is an RN and works at JCMG Laser & Vein Center, Jefferson City, as the Clinic Coordinator. She has been there three and a half years. She worked in the Pediatric Intensive Care, Columbia, for three years before that.

Their son is Taylor Jones, 14, an eighth grader at California Middle School

"Steve and I met when we were kids going to church camp," said Lori. "His dad and my dad were childhood friends as well. Steve's grandpa was also my dad's pastor for several years in St. Louis. The joke has always been that I chased Steve for several years until I finally caught him!

"I chose to become a nurse when I was in high school. My sister Tina got very sick during this time and spent a month in the hospital. I was so amazed by what the nurses did for her, as well as our family, during this time that I decided 'I want to help people just like them.' There were no nurses in my family so this was something totally different and I was the first grandchild on my dad's side to attend and graduate from college.

"When I worked in the hospital, I had to rotate weekends which meant that I would miss Sunday services. I am not only the pastor's wife but also the worship leader at our church so I always felt bad when I wasn't able to be in church to support Steve and fulfill my role in the local church.

"When I had the opportunity to take a Monday through Friday clinic job, it only seemed right for my family, church and even myself.

"I can't say that I deal with all of my duties as a pastor's wife like I probably should (or like some may think I should) because, as many pastor's wives will tell you, it is not an easy job...much like being a mother. One thing I will say is that I love our people like my Mama taught me to...unconditionally.

"Taylor has been very active in choir, band and even a few sports over the past several years. I have enjoyed every minute of watching him grow in these areas and it also brings back a lot of memories of my school years.

"Sometimes I wonder how my parents handled three kids involved in a lot of different things...just one seems to run me ragged sometimes. We have been very blessed to have my parents around to help get him places when Steve and I weren't able to. With my jobs being out of town for the last 10 plus years and Steve's schedule varying based on the needs of the funeral home, we have relied on family many times to help us out.

"I think growing up is so much different now than when I lived at home with my parents. Peer pressure is a much bigger problem. Family time and values have definitely changed. I think we are so 'busy' with other things that it is so easy to lose track of what is most important to us...each other.

"As I look back over the time when Daddy was pastoring (with Mama's support, of course) and I look at my life now, I don't know how they never let things bring them down.  Pastors and pastors' wives carry a heavy load and to be able to juggle the demands of the ministry as well as the never-ending role of a parent can often easily overwhelm you. Mama and Daddy never let that show. I strive to be like that myself. 

"My father-in-law is a pastor as well and, I think, Steve and I have been able to pick out pieces of each of our parent's ministry that has lifted us up in our ministry as well.

"Mama taught me a lot as a mother and as a pastor's wife. I always told her that I wanted to be just like her but, little did I know, it wasn't that easy. There's a lot of tears that come with both roles. There's a lot of laughter, love, joy and yes, even frustrations, but Mama instilled in me that no matter what comes along...I am so blessed!

"She led us by example, all the way up until she passed away a year ago this past February. She had a strength that came from her love for the Lord, Daddy and her family. Her favorite scripture was 'I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.' (Psalms 121:1) She showed me that no matter what this life brings, there is a help for every situation, problem, worry or frustration. I always thought Mama could fix everything but, since she has been gone, I am finding out where her strength came from." 

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