Voices of the Faithful: Timmons and Lela Bush
Voices of the Faithful: Timmons and Lela Bush
A Mother and Father to Many:
From~Pastor Leisa Nelson
Over fifteen years ago, Timmons and Lela Bush walked into what was then the Hilton Hotel in downtown Huntsville. We were in the beginning season of birthing The Rock, so every Sunday morning we had to set up and tear down before and after each service. After church on this particular day, we met them and the couple that had come with them, Tim and Ginette Kirkland (who are now pastors on our staff.) They immediately began helping us tear down and load the truck. We went to lunch that day, and from that day on, they became “Mama Lela and Dad Timmons” to us. They have reserved seats on the front row of our church.
To us, they are a representation of a spiritual “mother” and “father.” There is one thing which all generations must grasp ahold of, and that is honouring our ELDERS! They are a generation which represents persistence, bravery, and a work ethic that cannot be compared.
Mama Lela and Dad Timmons love wholeheartedly! They give unconditionally! And they serve extravagantly! They are as constant as the sun. When we first moved to Huntsville, our youngest son was run over by a car. He was six years old. After the doctors surgically set his leg and hip, I had not closed my eyes until three am. But I awoke the next morning to “Dad” sitting in a chair praying. He stayed all day. Five months later, I had surgery to remove two large tumors in my abdomen. The surgery lasted four hours, and all I remember when I woke up was “Dad” sitting in a chair praying. All he said was, “I’m here, daughter.” Equally as faithful is “Mama Lela.” She not only has mothered me, but has truly gone into the highways and byways compelling, rescuing, and interceding for hundreds of women. The impact these two have made for the Kingdom of God is challenging to anybody who has the honor of being in their presence. It will truly take heaven for the numerical number of their spiritual sons and daughters to be counted!
I was 26 years old and pregnant with our third child. We had just moved to Huntsville and I had a deep desire for intimate fellowship. There was a beautiful older woman in our church who stood up one Wednesday evening and gave a testimony about having been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. She spoke of how difficult things had been and how her husband loved her through it. I found myself in her story. Not necessarily in the pain that she had experienced but in the process of how she overcame. How her husband nurtured her and how her faith did not fail. I remember making a comment to my husband about her beauty. Even though she had just shared a story of her own frailties all I could see was God’s strength. I was not close to my own mother at the time and I remember crying out to God saying, “I need a Spiritual Mother.” His gentle reply, “Become that which you desire.”
Because I believe that we become what we behold, I wondered to myself, “How will I become something that I’ve never seen?” Little did I know, my husband had approached the lovely woman from church and told her, “My wife needs a Mother figure in her life and I believe you are exactly the example that she needs.” Her name was Lela Bush. Affectionately known to all as “Mama Lela.” She was a native of Huntsville. She had grown up on Hobbs Island. She attended Council Training High School. She told stories of how little brown children and white children were friends in her community. They didn’t have much, but they had each other, and when they wanted to look like they had more, they shared one another’s clothes. They went to separate schools but they did life together. I could tell that at a very young age Mama Lela learned to love without limits.
She and her husband Da (Timmons Bush) loved helping others. Our very first Christmas in Huntsville they invited our family over for dinner on Christmas Eve. She prepared a traditional meal and Da passed out gifts to our children. We had no family in the area and although it was season of lack like we had never known their family’s friendship was such great gain. One of the most special things about that evening was realizing that they were traveling the next day to go be with their own children. They didn’t have to take the time out to pour into our family the way that they did, but you could tell by the smile on her face and the joy in Da’s laughter that they would have it no other way.
Da worked for Huntsville Hospital and each time we experienced a surgery or a sickness he was right there. You could hear him singing in the halls as he mopped the floors. It was as though God sent his presence to wash the pain away and impart His perfect peace. Last year he retired and it was amazing to hear of all the prayers he prayed, hugs he gave and lives that he touched over the years. The Lord has given Mama Lela a heart to help families before they become homeless. She has volunteered at a local women’s shelter for years. It’s as though they both have this special way of showing up just as life gets so heavy and hard that one’s hope starts to fade.
During some of my own deepest darkness Mama Lela’s wisdom has shed invaluable light. One day I showed up at their door completely broken. Da held me as I wept and said, “Let me go get your Mama.” When she appeared in their living room it was as though she was celebrating my brokenness. She held me close, wiped away my tears and said, “If the rose didn’t get crushed there would be no aroma. God collects our tears in bottles, Our crying doesn’t bother Him.” I said to her, “Mama Lela, sometimes my darkness is so dark.” “If your darkness wasn’t so dark, then your light wouldn’t shine so bright.” She replied.
The greatest lessons I’ve learned from Mama Lela and Da have been from statements like this. “We’ll never know the burdens we bear or the people who made it because we cared.” Everything that I’ve ever seen Mama Lela & Da do they do as unto the Lord. They have a way about them that gives people permission to be where they are and a compassion that compels people to bounce back from whatever knocked them down. On many occasions the Lord has used Mama Lela’s wisdom and grace to give me permission to grieve and motivation to grow. The Lord has sent many amazing women into my life over the years. Mama Lela has been a mentor that has taught me how manage marriage, ministry, family and friendships. Most importantly she has modeled that no matter our age we will always be subject to life’s aches and pains. That through every season the God of all comfort will comfort us and give us His peace. One time I called her and said, “If love hurts this bad, then I’m tired of loving.” Her gentle reply was, “Oh, so you want to stop being like Jesus. God is love Honey and if you don’t want to keep loving when it hurts then you don’t want to be like God.”
Because of individuals like Mama Lela and Da, ordinary people like me can learn to love in extraordinary ways. I am blessed by their love for one another and love for the Lord. I am thankful for their service to the community of Huntsville and honored to behold their legacy of love, faith and family.
I have definitely known Mama Lela and Da the shortest amount of time in this bunch but I am a daughter none the less. God’s timing is perfect. I know that is not a shocker to most but HE still amazes me with HIS kindness. Mama Lela and Da entered my life a couple years before my mother went home to be with Jesus and my Spiritual Mama, my Aunt Leta, who is now 90, has recently been diagnosed with dementia and has no memory of me this side of Heaven. We all have a desire to be known and loved unconditionally and a mama is just right for the job. The Lord knew that I still desperately needed a physical mother and HE provided me with Spiritual parents who love me like their own.
I can not say thank you enough to God for HIS provision, Mama Lela and Da for their unconditional love, support and prayers, and for their children who selflessly share their parents with the many sons and daughters who would feel orphaned without them.
Letters That Define a Legacy
If I had to describe our parents in one word, that word would be love. Unconditional love at that. Our mom (family and acceptance issues) and our dad (health issue) had to overcome a lot of challenges growing up. But they did not allow those challenges to confine them, but instead; they used them to refine them. They used the challenging lessons of their childhood to raise their three natural born children in a home full of Love! Even today we end all conversations with; I love you.
One way our parents shows love, is by asking questions. Sometimes a lot of questions (Lol)! Mom often says, “I know momma asks a lot questions but I ask question because I care and because growing up no one asked me questions.” Asking questions is one of the many ways our parents shows LOVE.
Another way our parents shows LOVE is through their hugs. If you have ever been hugged by them, you know exactly what I mean. You can just feel the LOVE flowing through their hugs. I cannot count how many people have told me how our parent’s hugs have impacted their lives. How their hugs made them feel loved.
Giving is another way our parents shows LOVE. They have given so much to so many; whether it was a kind word, someone to listen, or material possessions. Through my mother’s Ministry of Love, they have helped countless women and children in Huntsville get back on their feet. I remember growing up my mom did not have a lot of clothes. God told her to give the clothes she had away, and He would bless her. If she gave her clothes away, she would always have a closet full of clothes. She followed His instructions and He was faithful. Today she not only has one closet full of clothes, she has three.
I mentioned earlier that our parents have three natural born children. But through their demonstration of unconditional LOVE, they are the parents of many. And I am so proud to be their son.
When I think about my mother I’m reminded of her strength and resilience no matter what she has to face. She is a woman of faith and is not moved by circumstances and conditions. My greatest memory of growing up is laying in bed listening to her pray for her family and many others and hearing her Sing in the kitchen while she cooked. Our home was always open to friends and the young people from church who had no family and needed a good home cooked meal, especially on Sundays. My Moma lived the life she sang about in her songs.
My father is a man who is strong, yet gentle, and sometimes weak. He’s not afraid to show his emotions and I’ve always respected that. He meets no strangers and all of our friends felt welcomed and loved in his presence. My greatest memory of my dad is hearing him pray and sing in the mornings as he got ready for work and while cooking breakfast for everyone. One of my greatest joys still today, when coming home to visit, is to lay in my childhood bed and wake up to the smell of him fixing my favorite breakfast.
Both of my parents are very loving people and they give the best healing hugs; A gift I’m proud to say I’ve inherited. The made many sacrifices for their children and many others. The love they share with other is priceless. The gift I cherish most in life is to be able to look in the mirror and at my life and realize that I am a reflexion of them both, physically, mentally and spiritually.
My Dad is one of Gods Generals of strength and wisdom. His laugh is infectious and his tears say I love you but never goodbye. One of the happiest days of my childhood was when he came for the first time to hear me sing in church. Although I was told he wouldn’t stay for the whole service, he did and that was the day he gave his life to Christ. I often think about that joyful day and the courage it took to walk down those aisles. I am forever thankful to have witnessed such miraculous change, for on that day our family was never the same. He is a father to many, a chaplain to others and all that to me but most of all
D.A.D. (Dedicated Affirming Duty).
I love you much Da,
Known to you as Wayne
My Mom is one of the greatest women of God and mother you will ever meet. She is not just my mom but but a mother to many all across the country. If you’ve ever been hugged by her then you know just how much you are loved. Her unselfish example is the epitome of love of Christ. I am humbled to be birth by such a strong women of God and forever grateful that I was the first birth of many.
I love you much Mom,
Your first born
Grandmother is a word to describe of women that has given birth to one’s paternal mother or father, that’s it nothing more nothing less. That definition, is only one small aspect of who Lela is too me. She is biologically my grandmother, but it would take a book to describe the woman she is, so I will attempt to touch the surface of who she is. My definition of my grandmother is, first a woman after God’s own heart, and because she has sought the heart of God she has the most unexplainably biggest heart. She is a woman that’ll give you her last of anything without though as to how she is going to replenish what was given. Secondly, she is a confident. No matter your socioeconomic status, gender, race or creed everyone that has come into contact with her knows they have a “mother/grandmother” to talk to, cry on her shoulder or just receive a genuine hug from. Thirdly, she’s a mother. Now you may wonder why I would define her as a mother when that states the obvious, but there are few women that have mothered or will mother any lost soul. My grandmother will take you into her care and treat you as one of her own even if you just met her. When I come to visit I have the opportunity to meet so many uncles and aunts! Every time I have gained another family member. Closing out I want to explain to all that because of this women I have been able to hold my head up high without regard of what others thought of me. When hard times come I can look and say, “because of her, I can” and I do. God gave me one of his angels as my Grandmother. I am honored and privileged that today I get to express just a little of the women she is. Grandma let your beauty continue to shine, you are an inspiration to all women, a pillar that holds many up, a counselor to the hurting, and a mother to the motherless.