June 29, 1933 … May 9, 2020 = 86 years + 10 months + 9 days.
Helen Lavern Keith was born on June 29, 1933 to Comma and Renna Keith of Umpire, Arkansas down in the southwest corner not far from Texarkana. She was the youngest of four children, 3 girls and 1 boy. The Keith family was a loving typical American small farm family, although her Daddy did take them to Washington State for a few years where he worked as a lumberjack, felling giant trees.
Returning to their farm home in Arkansas, Helen started school in the Umpire, Arkansas public school, which was quite small. The town’s population was only 40-70 people on average. Helen’s mother, Renna Keith known all around as “Mama Keith” was quite the active leader in the local Umpire Seventh-day Adventist Church! In fact, over the years, she had shared her faith in God with many, had led many to Christ studying with them and preparing them for baptism. Not only had Mama Keith helped sustain and grow her church, she instilled a love of Jesus in her kids, Helen included. Her witness bore its greatest joy when one day “Papa Keith / Comma, her husband” was also baptized!
Today, we share Helen’s memorial service from her own Mother’s cherished Bible! This Bible has been in the family for about 120 years!
One of the treasured teachings of Jesus that Mama Keith taught Helen to love and cherish is that Death is not the end for God’s children. Helen was shown that God, through Jesus, had made a perfect solution to the wages of sin is death problem! Jesus has indeed become The Resurrection and Life, so Helen learned the truth of John 5:24-28 which Mama Keith has highlighted and underlined in her precious Bible, and then actually wrote at the top of the page the key words in her own hand writing: “All that are in the graves shall hear His voice”.
Joh 5:24 Truly, truly, I say to you, He who hears My Word and believes on Him who sent Me has everlasting life and shall not come into condemnation, but has passed from death to life.
Joh 5:25 Truly, truly, I say to you, The hour is coming and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they who hear shall live.
Joh 5:26 For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has given to the Son to have life within Himself,
Joh 5:27 and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man.
Joh 5:28 Do not marvel at this, for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves shall hear His voice,
Helen grew up with this love of Jesus and His truth about death and the resurrection hope deep in her heart. She attended Keene, TX Adventist College after graduating from Umpire High School. There she earned her AS Degree in secretarial services. After graduating, she accompanied her best friend for life, Jessie Faye Pendegraff to New Orleans, LA. Jesse began school teaching for this handsome young principal from Wichita, KS – Keith Wiseman. All of them were members of the St Charles Seventh-day Adventist Church. Helen worked for a Dr. Cox’s office as a secretary. Jessie, being a faithful friend who prayed & loved Jesus (by the way, her own family was brought to Jesus by Helen’s mother – Mama Keith) began to sense in her heart that she should introduce her principal to her best friend! Love was quick to take root in their hearts!
On June 5, 1955 at the age of 22, Helen married Keith Wiseman and began a lifetime of love and devotion that brought forth 3 kids, Marcia Wiseman Bowen, Ken Wiseman, and Tami Wiseman Tishaw. Then their joy was multiplied with 3 cherished kids in love who married Keith & Helen’s kids, David Bowen, Cindy Bietz Wiseman, and Bobby Tishaw. Joy grew as 6 precious grandkids came into this world: Dusty & Tiffany, Brent & Chase, Cody & Abby. Joy became complete with the addition of 5 great grandkids and counting!
Helen Wiseman passed from this life on Mother’s Day eve just this past Sabbath evening. She did so surrounded by her family, and fully depending on these words, her dear Mama Keith wrote in this Bible – “All that are in the graves shall hear His voice”. “
She left a family who deeply loves her and forever will! She left her incredible ways in their hearts and lives and has extended the legacy of God through her kids.
Here is what each of her kids say is the single greatest thing they learned from their precious Mom and will take with them always?
Marcia Wiseman Bowan (the oldest – Ken says Mom would totally laugh and approve to add the footnote, “oldest by far” J ) Marcia says: “Her patience…her love for God and treating everyone with the Golden Rule”
David Bowan says: “Her strength and then she passed this onto her daughter Marcia how to be strong”.
Ken Wiseman says: “She taught me how to love Jesus and be loved by Him. I will never forget our long heart to heart talks, and hearing her pray for me. I will take with me forever seeing my name in my Mom’s handwriting at the top of the prayer list on the pulpit in their church. Forever I will cherish her prayers & counsel that brought me to my Cindy.”
Cindy Bietz Wiseman says: I am forever grateful God allowed me to meet and know Mama Wiseman. From the first time I met her she welcomed me with love and accepted me as family. She taught me that being happy is a reflection of what is inside you. I never saw her Not Happy. Her welcoming words made you feel like you were her biggest gift, “Oh, I’m SOOO happy to see you! I was just thinking about you and hoping I could see you!” And her smiles and “I love you” just filled your heart. I also learned that being a little mischievous made life more fun. That twinkle in her eye when she said "I’ve been thinking…” I will forever be thankful for the amazing, loving son she raised, strong but tender hearted. She taught him well. I cannot wait to be together in our heavenly home and have time eternal to love and learn.
Tami Wiseman Tishaw says: “How to be a good Mom. I watched her care for her family lovingly and faithfully, never complaining. We could always count on her no matter what for physical care and good advice. The best role model we could ever have.”
Bobby Tishaw says: “Often we forget the influence of a single simple life. Helen’s influence as a mother has shaped Tami who has shaped two children who are already shaping others even before they are parents. Even in the simplest life we can be a big influence. We don’t all have to have a great calling to have a high calling!”
Isaiah 25:8 says: He will swallow up death forever! The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces. He will remove His people’s disgrace from all the earth. The Lord has spoken.
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