Devotion in Motion: Three Vases

14 Whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. James 4:14 (NKJV)

By Bro. John L. Cash, “Country Preacher Dad”

I never cease to be amazed at the brevity of life, and how quickly circumstances can change. Charlie Dingus, a dear friend of our family, was looking forward to his last day of school as a high school senior last Friday. But late that Thursday night, with no warning, his mother suffered a stroke and soon passed away. Her name was Anita, and she was only 53 years old. We are all broken-hearted.

I always really liked Anita, but I didn’t know her all that well. We never had the opportunity to talk very much. But I know what kind of person she was, and what kind of heart she had–because I know her children.  I have spent time with them, and I’ve seen the things they do. Her three college-age children, Edythe, Johnny, and Charlie, made the plans and preparations for their mother’s memorial service. I have never seen a service prepared with more thoughtfulness and love. When friends and loved ones stepped to the microphone to share their memories of Anita, her oldest child, Edy, told the congregation about the many lessons of love she had learned from her mother.

My son Spencer accompanied on guitar while Charlie and a group of his friends sang a song his mother liked. You have to have a lot of strength to do things like that. I have an idea where they might have learned it.

The children had taken three of their mother’s favorite vases–one for each of them–and made beautiful arrangements of mixed flowers. Some of the flowers came from the florist, and some of them they cut from the yard. Johnny’s aunt told me that Johnny picked a ribbon to be tied around each vase–a ribbon in the color of each child’s birth month. In the center arrangement, there was a single yellow rose–for Anita, their mother.

We used to have a plaque hanging in our kitchen that said, “Love your children like you plan to live forever, and instruct them as if you won’t be around next year.” I’ve always thought that was good advice. It seems even more appropriate now. It’s sobering to think about the shortness of life. But I think there’s a positive lesson there, too—a blessing. The little things mothers do every day as they go about their daily routines are not in vain. They are making an imprint on the lives of their children.

Dear mama, the Lord has given you a new day to live for your babies. Live it well–and make it a good one.

Dr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad.” He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and is in the middle of his 25th year of being a country preacher in the piney woods five miles south of the little town of Hickory, Mississippi. (On week days he works at a public school.)  He and his lovely wife, Susan, and his sons, Spencer (age 19) and Seth (age 15) live in the parsonage next door to the Antioch Christian Church (where we are trying to do good things each day—because time is short.) He would love to hear from you in an email sent to