As for Me and My House

Dolores Hayford
Foreword by Jack Hayford

There are few people who ever met my mother who weren’t impressed with the substance of her character. Many things could be said of Dolores Hayford. She was a happy person, a witty person, a loving, caring, servant-hearted person. She was filled with the gift of mercy, and she was a brilliant woman. Though her educational pedigree was unimpressive, her intellect and powers of reason were. Best of all, she was never impressed with herself, nor did she ever attempt to impress anyone.

Still, whenever my Mamma spoke, people were impressed. She made more than effective contact with her listeners, she made an impact. She was profound, and in her practicality, genuine Christ-like spirituality became credible and accessible because she lived the life about which she taught.

I am certain that if you’d have had the opportunity to meet my mother, you would have loved her. Mamma was bright (all the way up to her eighty-one years!), she was interesting (and if she didn’t know the subject that interested you, she would learn about it!), and she was fun to be with (as her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and numberless friends will tell you!).

She was also godly. But please don’t invest in any monastic notions about that word when applying it to Mamma. Her godliness wasn’t reflected in any religious pretensions or stylized spirituality. She simply loved the Lord and lived out that love all of her life-genuinely taking the Lord seriously and caring for people whom others didn’t seem willing to take time for.

Though not formally trained in public ministry, Mamma “touched people for God” every way she could. She was a writer, speaker and gifted teacher-the result of more than just study or intellect. Her giftedness was the fruit of two additional essentials: humility at Jesus’ feet and absolute obedience to the Word of God and the Holy Spirit’s voice. For her entire life, she remained teachable, correctible and childlike in the presence of God, and that is unquestionably the greatest lesson she taught me.

Most and best of all, she was a mother. A very good one.

Besides loving my dad with all her heart (he went home to glory a few years before she did) and keeping our home a happy place to live in, visit and be around, Mamma raised three kids. Even though none of us was taught to think that “being in the ministry” was a profession superior to any other, all of us yielded our lives to the full-time service of our Lord Jesus Christ. No matter how you measure it, Mamma had something to do with that. She made serving God a practical, sensible and joyous way of life-something you’d like to do and wanted to help others know how to do as well.

My brother, Jim, has been a pastor for over forty years and today serves as the senior pastor of Eastside Foursquare Church in Bothell, Washington.

My sister, Luanne, was a missionary to Hong Kong and a zealous intercessor until her homegoing in 1978. And I’ve just passed the fifty-year mark as a preacher and teacher of God’s Word.

All of us would chalk up the blessings and privileges of our lives and ministries to the grace of God. But then we’d each probably add, “…Who worked so much in us through Mamma.” She prayed for us all with incredible sensitivity and discernment. (At times she came to me with “something the Lord showed” her, and I found out that God wouldn’t let me get away with anything! The Almighty kept “telling my mother” on me!)

She raised us God’s way, but she didn’t do it alone. My dad was in the military as a young man, then was a railroad man for most of my life. Both professions bred in him a solid mix of authority and responsibility, relayed with a fervor for “doing things right, even if no one’s looking.” We kids knew we were loved, and we grew up in a household where God’s truth was the rule, but His love was the mood. Holy living was made both happy and livable.

I have lots of stories about Mamma’s special instances of influencing me such as:

The time she dreamed Jesus met her on a darkened hillside where burnt brush had removed vital growth. Daddy said after dinner one night, “Honey, tell the kids what you told me about the Lord’s ‘word’ to you.”

The word: “Daughter, it is too late for you to be walking among the barren places.”

The impact: a sudden recognition that it was time to shape up any loose edges in my own lifestyle, because if God was cautioning my Mamma, then we were all in trouble!

Or the time shortly after I’d finished my studies for ministry: I was standing in the kitchen conversing with Mamma when she casually turned to me and said: “Son, whatever you do in ministry, just never forget one thing: None of us has a corner on truth.” I haven’t forgotten. And I haven’t any idea how that one word of wisdom-gently laid on a young just-graduated-from-theological-school pastor-has kept me relatively free from petty attitudes toward other parts of Christ’s Body and helped me steer clear of provincialism or doctrinaire divisiveness.

Mamma was a dear lady. But, notwithstanding my obvious reasons for being considered prejudiced, I’ll go further: She was a great lady. I think you’ll get a small taste of why I say that as you read and use this book. In it, you’ll learn how to raise a family God’s way. That’s no stilted claim. You can believe it, because my mother did it, and after her children were grown, she continued to influence others to do the same.

Late into her life, Mamma continued to be invited by young parents to teach classes on parenting and with good reason. She had proven the plan that God’s Word reveals both in the raising of her own children and by her effective, wise counsel to other parents. And she related it in ways that were so “just-plain-good-sense” in their delivery that people not only agreed with her, they also believed that they too could do it.

We learned from her, and all of our kids are living examples of Jesus at work in a family-with a raft of grandchildren and great-grandchildren now coming up the same way.

So, allow me now to introduce you to the person who introduced me to the world (and taught me how to live in it)–my precious mother, Dolores Hayford.

Jack W. Hayford, Chancellor
The King’s University
Los Angeles, California

From As for Me and My House: A Weekly Family Devotional Guide. Copyright 1997, 2005 by Dolores Hayford. All rights reserved.

Further your study

Our gift of this article by Pastor Jack Hayford is made possible by your gracious support of the ministry. Partner with us online or call toll-free 1-800-776-8180 to donate (outside the U.S., call 1-818-779-8525).

Order Now