Worth Far Above Rubies

Johanna Lee Pope.JPGYou know it is never easy, to sum up, a person’s life in a few short sentences or a list of words. I guess because when you lose them to the death your mind is flooded with memories from your very first memory to the last day. And as I think back over the years of my life the memories of a woman I called Mom are the woman who looked much like the woman in the book of Proverbs. While the woman the Lord speaks of is pretty much perfect I know my mother would say she was far from it.

I always described my mother as a pip. By definition, a pip is an excellent or a very attractive person or thing. And she was very attractive to many. “She was beautiful,” many have said to me. She was feisty, witty and could be stubborn when she needed to be. She loved to be with people. She definitely was a social creature. Whether at a party, a holiday gathering, playing cards, floating, camping, motorcycle rides or just sitting around with family doing nothing, she was happy.

She was loyal and loved her family. I saw my whole life how she cared for her mom and

1968 farmington

Larry, Wilma, Johanna, Elbert, Glenda Michelle and Dannielle 1967 Farmington, Missouri

dad. Her sister and brother. Her husband and her children. She was definitely a caretaker. She took care of us all. She always had a plan and she could make it happen. And I am pretty sure I got that from her. She loved, loved, loved having her family around her. I think that brought her the greatest joy. And just today realized I got that from her as well because having all my children and grandchildren surround me fills my heart to overflowing. I know that is what she expressed on her face when we all came home to visit her.

She was also a peacemaker. Always trying to encourage everyone to get along. We come from a loud and boisterous family. There were many years of turmoil and upheaval that were hard on her. But she never quit trying to make things better. I remember just before going into the air force my mom and Bob started attending church. They both surrendered to the Lord and I began to see a change in them, in their lives. That change influenced me to make some changes in my life as well. Those changes for me would lead me to a faith in God deeper than I have ever known. A faith I would need in the years that followed, a faith that would change the course of my family’s life.

She loved being a grandmother. I watched her hold each one of her grandchildren with such pride and tenderness. Other than adoration I never knew what was going through her mind when she was holding them and baby talking to them until of course, I became a grandmother. I remember asking her once how come she never told me how great it was to be a grandmother? She just giggled. So I guess that was her secret.

She loved her children. And losing one nearly took the life right out of her. That was a dark time for our whole family. She did say she told me that she could relate to me because she herself had lost StitchSCAN1385-SCAN1391.JPGher brother tragically when she was 19. But I could never relate to her losing a daughter. The pain of that ran very deep. The joy in this day is that she is reunited with a brother she has not seen in 55 years and a daughter she has not seen in 11 years.

She was forgiving and kind. Always saw people for how they treated others. She did not see color or status. Make no mistake she could sum a person up in a few minutes, she was good at telling someone’s character. And if they were a bad egg she would warn you. One of the blessings of this day is seeing the number of folks that loved her and hearing them praise her for her kindness and compassion she had for others. So many people respected her. Another word that keeps coming up is fun; she was just a fun person. What a great friend she was to others and how much everyone valued what she said. I think I heard the ladies at the VFW called her the “Mob Boss.” And the picture of my tiny mother as a Mob Boss is precious.

She was so creative. Oh my goodness, she could create anything out of nothing. I love that I got that from her. I remember, as a little girl, her sewing teeny tiny clothes for me and my sister Danielle’s Barbie’s. She made ice candles out of milk cartons, wax, and ice and then would put it on a plate surrounded by leaves she picked up out of the yard. She loved to decorate. And everything had to color coordinate, even what she was wearing. She could put together an outfit and look like a million bucks. Some of the clothes she sewed from her own patterns back in the 70’s were amazing!!!


2016 taken at the Jewel Box St. Louis Forrest Park

A few years ago the Lord had put it on my heart to do something for my mother for Mother’s Day. I had not spent Mother’s Day with her since the 90’s. She had been in and out of the hospital and I just knew we needed to create some new memories together. I wanted to treat her like a queen for the day. I planned a weekend away in the city with my mother, my aunt, my sister and our daughters. I made the announcements including the itinerary and sent them off. First, we would have dinner with a very old friend of my moms. A lady she had not seen in many years. Then we would be swept off to the city for Mani/Pedi, a photography session at the Jewel Box in Forrest Park, a stay at an exclusive historic hotel, order room service dinner, catch the Sound of Music at Fox Theater and topped off the weekend with a Mother’s Day Buffet at the top of the Park Plaza Hotel overlooking St. Louis Forrest Park. When it was all said and done she said, “This is the best time I ever had in my whole life.”IMG_7686.jpg

And you know today it is one of the best memories I have of my mom in my whole life. The intent was to celebrate each other, as a mother, a grandmother, a daughter, a sister and an Aunt. We each played one or more of those roles, we represented 3 generations connected by blood but more importantly by love. It was priceless.

Yes, my mother would tell you she was far from perfect and I would tell her that in her imperfection she exemplified that woman worth far above rubies. Her husband trusted in her. She worked with her hands to create beautiful things. She worked hard in her life and never quit providing for her family. She knew how to grow things and make life beautiful around her. She would make clothes for herself and her family. She gave to those around her who needed help without a hesitation. Her husband was known in the gates because of her strength and honor. She opened her mouth with wisdom and in her tongue was kindness. She cared for her household always and did not waste her time with idleness. And because of these things

Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.

Johanna Lee (Pope) Tomlinson

1943 – 2017

Online Obituary

Johanna was the direct descendant of the founding fathers of Farmington Missouri. Through Joel Zolman and Louisa Murphy.  See Pope Family Tree Page on Shell’s Space.



God’s Hands Fashion Our Lives!

There are times in our lives when we are transported to a place beyond what our minds can imagine.  So much of our imagination has been taken from us by the electronic devices of our times.  We can pretty much see everything on television if we look for it, so in essence nothing is left to the imagination, right??  In an instant we can find out information from our cell phones or laptops.  We don’t have to wait till we get home to find out the score of the latest football game if we are out and about and forgot to dvr it. Of course, that is, if your not a man, he would not be out and about during a football game, Wink.  But with all the means of communication and virtual experience of thrills and spills there is still no substitution for being there, live and in person. 
I have given birth four times since the age of 25 and through all those events it never crossed my mind that I would be witnessing the birth of my grandchild.  I remember when Benjamin called me on February 16, 2007 to tell me I was a grandmother for the first time.  I cried immediately even though I had not even laid eyes on the little guy yet. It must have been something in my sons voice that told me he was overwhelmed at seeing his sons birth.   Weeks later they had finished a video montage and sent it to me and smack dab in the middle was a video clip of him being born.  I was not expecting that video clip so when I saw it my heart leaped and I cried again.  It was sooooo very precious to me.  It was a month later that I got to fly to North Carolina and actually meet him for the first time….and hold him.  I literally was on cloud 9.  It was a feeling I will never forget, much like the very first time they placed my own babies in my arm.
But I have to tell you being present at the birth is a whole other feeling.  There is nothing to prepare you for all the emotions that are coursing through your mind and heart.  It is surreal to be sure.  My daughter, whom I worried would lose control, did the complete opposite.  She was focused and determined. She was ready to meet her daughter.  It was amazing to watch her and the daddy interact….it was the sweetest thing. 


Both Grandma’s were present and we both enjoyed sharing the memory of our own childbirth stories.  The anticipation was mounting as we waited for the progression of the event.  When the time came it was unbelievably dramatic.  Your mind is trying to grasp the details of how God created everything to happen in the order He planned.  How He gave us one of the greatest miracles, life in a tiny human form coming forth with all the emotion, pain, excitement and love.  We were all gathered to welcome this little girl into the world.  My heart pounded the moment I saw her slip out and then I let out a gasp. I could hear my daughter crying and laughing to see her baby girl.  I could see the tears and awe in the daddy’s face.  He cut the cord.  And she was born!  4:59 PM, 7 lbs 11 oz, 19.5 inches long and bundle of sweetness! 


From the moment we set eyes on her, you could not tear your eyes away.  She was perfect in every way….long fingers and toes, dimples and round cheeks, a sweet little button nose.  I just kept saying "Hello sweetie, hello Dani!"  They named her Daniela after my sister Danielle.  We call her Dani just as we called my sister when she was growing up.  And it fits her, Daniela Jade, she is so beautiful! Daniela in Hebrew is "God is my judge!" and Jade a green gemstone.  Reminding me of a Proverbs 31 woman, beautiful from the inside out.  I am praying she will serve God as I have prayed for all my children and grandchildren to do so. 


 1Bless the LORD, O my soul:

and all that is within me,

bless his holy name. Psalm 103

 All the Grandparents are praising God!!!   What a heritage!!!

          Photobucket  Grandpa Russell    

Photobucket  Grandpa Pete via MSN Messenger                

 Photobucket  Granny Susan                                            

 Photobucket  Grammy Shell      

You know in the days since her birth I have had a lot of time to reflect on the blessings God brings into our lives.  We don’t always stop to praise God or memorialize these moments and days as they pass.  God told His children to do so after He did something big in their lives so they would remember it was God that did it.  Like when He parted the Jordan for Joshua and His children to enter into the promised land.  He told Joshua to have 12 men, one from each tribe, to pick up a stone on their way across the dry ground of the Jordan.  When they reached the other side He had them build a memorial to remember "That all the people of the earth might know the hand of the LORD, that it is mighty: that ye might fear the LORD your God for ever. "

Do you notice it says that "All the people of the earth…" not just His children but "all the people of the earth" He does great things everyday and how often do we stop to give Him the glory?  When I first got to hold her in my arms, I began reciting Psalm 103 to her little face.  Her eyes were open and she was looking up at me.  As I was speaking the words out loud the doctor who had delivered her began singing the verse….so instead of speaking I joined in singing it and my heart soared.  It was God who formed her, kept her and brought her forth!  It was His day.  I imagine God looking down and seeing the tear on my daughters eyes and smiling.  Smiling because He brought joy to the heart of His children in a hospital room in Houston, Texas in the form of a little girl. 


. . .and a little child shall lead them.  Isaiah 11:6


There are no more words….










except, Amen!

grace to you


Bragging on Brodie & his peeps


I have been sorting pictures and making a scrapbook album called “Grandmother’s Album”  kind of like I did for the album I made with all my children in it…called it “Mother’s Album”.  I am so excited to put all the pictures of Brodie’s two and half years.  He is precious.  There are pics in this slide show of all his grandparents and some of his aunts and uncles.  I could only put so many in the slide…but it is worth looking at…He is just too cute!!!  I love being a grandmother…..Red heart