Goodbye Mom, Edith Schaeffer 1914 – 2013 RIP

Edith Schaeffer 1914 – 2013 RIP

My mother Edith Schaeffer died today. She was the author of many books on family life and spirituality and co-founder with my father Francis Schaeffer of the evangelical ministry of L’Abri Fellowship in Switzerland. She has just gone to be with the Lord, as she would put it. She died at home which was her wish. This was made possible because of my generous sister Debby and her husband Udo who completely rearranged their lives to care for Mom in her last years.

Mom completed a dramatic life with a final flourish: she died on Easter Saturday, to join her risen Lord. I last talked to Mom yesterday. Rather she slept as I talked. A few days before my granddaughter Lucy was on my lap and we were talking to Mom via Skype. That day she was awake.

Mom’s face filled the screen and she was looking at us on the laptop placed on the covers of her bed. I last had been with her in person two years ago when I’d spent ten days with her. Before she was bedridden (about four months ago) we’d talk on the phone and after that we’d Skype.

I’ve been talking to her every day for the last several weeks knowing she was slipping away. Since I care for my two youngest grandchildren, Lucy (4) and Jack (2) five days a week they have often been there when “Noni,” as her grandchildren and great-grandchildren called Mom was on the screen with us.

During one of the last calls when Lucy and I talked to her last week, Mom was beautiful with her silver hair in a ponytail and her red hair band and matching shawl. Trapped in a body she’d lost control of, it took all of her formidable willpower to acknowledge our love. She had a feeding tube in her nose and was slipping in and out of consciousness. Five minutes after we hung up she would not remember the conversation. But in the moment when I said “I love you,” she nodded back and was fully aware.

Mom was staring earnestly into the laptop screen her nurse had set up so we could talk via Skype. My four year old granddaughter Lucy whispered “Does she have her perfume on?”

“Your great grandmother always wears perfume. So I bet she does,” I answered.

I kept reminding Mom of who we were, speaking rather slowly and loudly, “This is your son, Frank, and I have my four year old granddaughter, Lucy, on my lap. Can you see her Mom? This is John’s daughter. John was our Marine. Remember praying for his safe return from Afghanistan? God answered your prayers, Mom. Say hi to your great-granddaughter Mom.”

When I asked if she knew we loved her, Mom acknowledged us with a slight nod and whispered “Yes.” Those turned out to be her last spoken words to me.

Mother was three thousand miles away in Switzerland. We were in Massachusetts. She was ninety-eight and dying. Lucy is four years old and thriving. We were in my home in the studio/office I’d built out of the old woodshed. We were surrounded by piles of manuscripts including, a stack four feet high of the twenty-three drafts of a new novel I’m working on. Lucy had her feet up on the top of the pile. My paintings were leaning in deep clusters against the walls and were hanging on every surface. The ubiquitous smell of turpentine and linseed oil was in the air. Mom had always loved that smell. When I was a kid she’d walk into my room, breathe deeply and say “I just LOVE the smell of paintings!”

Before that day’s Skype chat with Mom, Lucy and I had been conducting imaginary orchestras while listening to Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto in G, full volume. Lucy launched an impromptu recitation of the Twenty Third Psalm, saying it all the way through. We’d also been looking at the weird and wonderful art of Pieter Brueghel the Elder and Lucy and Jack loved his pictures of sixteenth century peasants, beggars, and his apocalyptic fantasies. So even though Lucy and Jack had never met my mother and were like ships passing in the night we were actually having a very Edith Schaeffer day.

Mom’s great-grandchildren were growing up loving what she’d loved: words, art, music, gardening, cooking and playacting. Mom was unable to speak any longer but she was nevertheless communicating with her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren every time they were read to, listened to music or when we painted together.

Since she couldn’t talk I read to Mom and Lucy out loud from one of her own books: Mei Fuh – Memories from China. My grandchildren love the book. Lucy knows it almost by heart.

As usual we had to skip the “sad part” Lucy never let me read, about how Adjipah the gardener ate Mom’s goldfish. Mei Fuh was the last of many books Mom authored and her one and only children’s book. Mom had been born to missionary parents in 1914 and the book was about her growing up in a missionary compound until she moved back to America at age six.

During the last Skype call Lucy made last week she asked Mom if she was “still upset about Adjipah eating your fish?” Mom tried to smile but with her teeth out and the tube taped to her nose her smile showed up in her eyes and not so much on her lips.

I felt bad that Lucy was seeing Mom at her most vulnerable to the ravages of age. So while we talked to Mom, I opened an album of pictures of her and whispered, “See how beautiful your great-grandmother really is? Look!”

Lucy nodded and said loudly to the screen “You’re beautiful, Noni!”

Mom heard Lucy and moved slightly and managed of a hint of a crumpled smile. Then Lucy said in a loud awed whisper,

“She heard me! She nodded! She smiled!”

I placed my hand on the laptop screen and showed Lucy that when the lower part of her face was hidden from the bridge of her nose up to her eyes and silver hair, Mom still looked like the lovely pictures in the album.

From time to time I’d ask, “Mom, do you remember that?” about this or that detail of her childhood and she’d open her eyes a bit wider to signal that she did remember. Any mention of her early years that got the biggest response. The neural pathways were shutting down and the last remaining seemed to be the memories of her life as a young child. The little girl who had once been Mom was looking at us through a thicket of memory loss and confusion. I reminded her of the five week trip she took back to China with my wife Genie when Mom was in her eighties. In the early 1990s they’d traveled for 5 weeks to Mom’s birthplace in Wenchow, on the coast of southern China.

Amazingly, given the communist “remake” of China and the destruction of everything old and beautiful that blocked “progress,” Genie and Mom found the mission compound still as it once was. Mom was welcomed by the people living in her old home and that allowed to wander through the buildings. Genie said that Mom remembered everything from the dusty courtyard where she had played, to the thick gate with the little barred window she used to look through while wishing that she could go into the street and join the passing processions during festivals.

I knew that each Skype call might be the last time I’d see my mother alive. So each time we talked I thanked Mom for her love and the terrific creativity she’d shown in how she raised her children. Reading Mom her book reminded me of the many hours my mother had read so many wonderful books to me out loud. She was such a glorious reader.

After about half an hour of sitting on my lap watching Mom sleep, wake and sleep again as I read to her, Lucy went to my easel and painted. A few minutes later she cheerfully called out to the screen; “This is a painting for you Noni! I’ll give it to you in heaven since you’re going to die before I see you.” Lucy said this very matter of factly with no fear, as if she was mentioning that she’d soon be seeing her great-grandmother someplace very ordinary. I don’t think she heard Lucy, but if she did, Mom would have liked what she said because my mother was nothing if not a believer in a literal heaven.
When the two hours or so we spent with Mom concluded Lucy was sitting up on a high stool in the kitchen while I was putting on her boots for the walk back to Lucy’s house.

“I’m so sad my mother is going to die soon, “ I said.

“You will be alright Ba,” Lucy said.

“How?” I asked.

“You have me,” she quietly answered and put her arms around me.

I trust my mother’s hope-filled view of death because of the way Mom lived her life. Mom first introduced me to a non-retributive loving Lord who did not come to “die for us” to “satisfy” an angry God but came as a friend who ended all cycles of retribution and violence.

Mom made this introduction to Jesus through her life example.  Mom was a wonderful paradox: an evangelical conservative fundamentalist who treated people as if she was an all-forgiving progressive liberal of the most tolerant variety.

Mom’s daily life was a rebuke and contradiction to people who see everything as black and white. Liberals and secularists alike who make smug disparaging declarations about “all those evangelicals” would see their fondest prejudices founder upon the reality of my mother’s compassion, cultural literacy and loving energy.

Just before Christmas of 2010, Mom and I sat down together during a ten day visit and I told her about my (then) latest writing project that turned out to be “Sex, Mom and God” (the third in a trilogy of memoirs that began with “Crazy For God.”) I told her about the book in detail—including that I was going to “tell the truth and let the chips fall where they may, Mom.”

With a flash of her old self and a familiar defiant head toss, Mom said, “Go ahead; I don’t care what people ‘think’ and never did!” Given her memory problem, I should add that before it developed and before her eyesight failed, she read my other equally “scandalous” writing, including my novels and nonfiction works, which also drew heavily from memories that to some people might have seemed too private to share.

Mom wasn’t “some people.” I once got a letter from one of my mother’s followers telling me that, having just read my novel Portofino (a work of humor where the mother character, “Elsa Becker,” is like my mother in some ways), she was sure it would “kill your mother because of the hatred for Jesus that drips from your SATANIC pen!” Coincidentally, that fan letter (received in the early 1990s before I was using e-mail) arrived in the same post delivery as a note from Mom asking me for another dozen signed hardcover copies of that book so that my mother could send out more to her friends. Mom’s follower had signed her letter “Repent!” My mother signed her note “I’m so proud of you.”

Besides a loving God and her steadfast support for the arts — even when she disagreed with some of my writing — here’s who else my mother introduced me to: Beethoven, Mozart, Bach, Haydn, Brahms, Schubert, Tchaikovsky, Handel, Schumann, Chopin, Mendelssohn, Debussy, Verdi and Vivaldi. She made them my friends. They are still my friends and companions and I have made them my children’s and grandchildren’s friends too. And that is my tribute to her example.

Here are some other people amongst others my mother taught me to love: da Vinci, Duccio, Giotto, Vermeer, Degas, Caravaggio, Rembrandt, Van Eyck, Van Gogh, Botticelli, Breughel, Michelangelo and Monet. They are still my friends and companions and I have made them my children’s and grandchildren’s friends too. And that is my tribute to her example.

My mother read to me and introduced me to Shakespeare, Louisa May Alcott, Jane Austen, Anne Bronte, Susan Fennimore Cooper, Emily Dickinson, George Eliot, Mary Shelley, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Beatrix Potter, E. Nesbit, Louis Carroll and A. A. Milne and… Woody Allen, amongst others. They are still my friends and companions and I have made them my children’s and grandchildren’s friends too. And that is my tribute to her example.

Here’s what my mother showed me how to do by example: forgive, ask for forgiveness, cook, paint, build, garden, draw, read, keep house well, travel, love Italy, love God, love New York City, love Shakespeare, love Dickens, love Steinbeck, love Jesus, love silence, love people more than things, love community and put career and money last in my hierarchy of values and — above all, to love beauty. I still follow my mother’s example as best I can and I have passed and am passing her life gift to my children and grandchildren not just in words but in meals cooked, gardens kept, houses built, promises kept, sacrifices made, and beauty pointed to.

My mother read me hundreds of books out loud, took me everywhere with her, provided order and beauty for her children from the mundane like scrubbing floors spotless on her knees and keeping our home orderly and clean, even when she had “no time” and was writing her book,  to serving every meal I ever ate at home as a child with candles and flowers on the table and making the simplest family time an event. (Thank God we had no TV and Mom wasn’t ever distracted by a cell phone or the internet from being a mother and of course her children were allowed to connect with the actual physical world hands on because we were lucky enough to grow up in the pre internet/electronic filtered age of false second hand “experiences.”)

Mother taught me that sex is good, stood by me and my young wife Genie when we were foolish and got pregnant as mere (very unmarried) children ourselves, backed every venture I launched from movie making, to being an artist and writer, stood with me when I dropped out of the evangelical religion altogether, stuck with me even when I denied her politics and turned “left” and “went progressive.”

Mom spent every dime she had on keeping her family together through family reunions and setting her example of putting family first. She stood with her sometimes abusive husband as he became famous in the American evangelical ghetto, though she well knew that she was the stronger partner in her always productive, sometimes lovely though at other times disastrous marriage.

Mom treated everyone she ever met well, spent more time talking to “nobodies” than to the rich and famous who flocked to her after her books were published and became bestsellers. Put it this way: through my experience of being a father (of 3) and grandfather (of 4) I’ve finally been able to test Mom’s life wisdom and spiritual outlook and found out that she was right: Love, Continuity, Beauty, Forgiveness, Art, Life and loving a loving all-forgiving God really are the only things that matter.

Each time I pick up my little grandchildren (or hug Genie’s and my grownup grandkids) and pray for wisdom about how to pass on the best of what I was given I know it is my mother’s example speaking to me. I never go to a classical concert or walk into a museum without remembering how Mom saved her money to take her children to hear the great music played by the great performers and helped me to learn that creativity trumps death.

I never say “I love you” to my wife Genie, to my children Jessica, Francis and John or to my son-in-law Dani or daughter-in-law Becky, let alone to my grandchildren Amanda, Benjamin, Lucy and Jack without remembering who showed me what those words mean.

Mother was a force to be reckoned with, a whole energetic universe contained in one trim little female frame, and she used that force entirely for good.


Mother in the garden at dawn weeding and watering her wonderful flowers and vegetables… Mother typing up a storm while writing her thousands of letters and dozens of books… Mother so pleased that her good friend Betty Ford invited her to the White House to swim laps with her in the White House pool… Mother so please she’d met BB King at one of his concerts when she was 91… Mother praying with me every night before turning out the light as she let me in on her best secret: the universe is not a hard cold lonely meaningless place but a cosmos full of love… Mother never making a sarcastic remark about her children or anyone else and the life-long self-confidence that gave me… Mother deep in conversation with cab drivers and giving her books away (and money, personal phone numbers and her home address) to hotel maids and other total strangers she decided she could help… Mother taking impractical detours to look at something lovely… Mother always late for everything and praying out loud over meals long, so long, at table as she forgot that for the rest of us prayer was mostly a ritual though for her it was an endless conversation with the eternal… Mother cleaning up my vomit after I took drugs as a young wayward teen and then fixing me poached eggs on toast as if I was 3 again… Mother buying me art supplies… Mother’s horror at the “harshness” as she put it, of so many evangelical religious people and the way they treated “the lost” and her saying that “no wonder no one wants to be a Christian if that’s how we treat people!”

Maybe everything has changed for me theologically but some things haven’t changed. I’m still thinking of Mom’s eternal life in her terms because she showed me the way to that hope through her humane consistency and won. Her example defeated my cynicism.

Mom understood me and tried to speak when I said my last “I love you.”

I knew what she was trying to say. It’s the phrase she spoke most to me over my 60 year journey on this earth so far. I answered her thought, and I said, “Thank you, I know you love me and I love you too Mom.” The day before Mom died my last words to her were “I want you to know your prayers for your family have been answered. I credit every moment of joy to your prayers.”

I’ll miss her voice. I learned to trust that voice because of the life witness that backed it up. I know I’ll hear her voice again. You won Mom. I believe.


Books By Edith Schaeffer:

1969. L’Abri. Worthing (Sussex): Norfolk P. ISBN 978-1-85684-025-5
1971. The Hidden Art of Homemaking: Creative Ideas for Enriching Everyday Life. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House. ISBN 978-0-8423-1420-6
1973. Everybody Can Know. London: Scripture Union. ISBN 978-0-85421-405-1
1978. Affliction. Old Toppen, New Jersey: Revell Co. ISBN 978-0-8007-0926-6
1975. Christianity is Jewish. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers. ISBN 978-0-8423-0243-2
1975. What is a Family? Old Tappan, N.J.: F.H. Revell Co. ISBN 978-0-8010-8365-5
1977. A Way of Seeing. Old Tappan, N.J.: Revell. ISBN 978-0-8007-0871-9
1981. The Tapestry: the life and times of Francis and Edith Schaeffer. Waco, Tex: Word Books. ISBN 978-0-8499-0284-0
1983. Common Sense Christian Living. Nashville: Nelson. ISBN 978-0-8407-5280-2
1983. Lifelines: God’s Framework for Christian Living. Westchester, IL: Crossway Books. ISBN 978-0-89107-228-7
1986. Forever Music. Nashville: T. Nelson. ISBN 978-0-8010-8336-5
1988. With love, Edith: the L’Abri family letters 1948-1960. San Francisco: Harper & Row. ISBN 978-0-06-067092-4
1989. Dear Family: the L’Abri family letters 1961-1986. San Francisco: Harper & Row. ISBN 978-0-06-067096-2
1992. The Life of Prayer. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books. ISBN 978-1-85684-046-0
1994. A Celebration of Marriage: Hopes and Realities. Grand Rapid, Mich: Baker Books. ISBN 978-0-8010-8354-9
1994. 10 Things Parents Must Teach Their Children (And Learn for Themselves) Grand Rapids, Mich: Baker Books. ISBN 978-0-8010-8373-0
1998. Mei Fuh: Memories from China. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co. ISBN 978-0-395-72290-9
2000. A Celebration of Children. Grand Rapids, MI: Raven Ridge Books. ISBN 978-0-8010-1193-1


Frank Schaeffer is a writer and author of Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back .

About Frank Schaeffer

Frank Schaeffer is an American author, film director, screenwriter and public speaker. He is the son of the late theologian and author Francis Schaeffer. He became a Hollywood film director and author, writing several internationally acclaimed novels including And God Said, "Billy!" as well as the Calvin Becker Trilogy depicting life in a fundamentalist mission home-- Portofino, Zermatt, and Saving Grandma.

  • Theodore Bosen

    My sincere condolences Frank. I feel I know her through your writing and she clearly is a remarkable woman.

    • jean milliken

      My son’s life was forever changed through being at L’bri. I am eternally grateful. Thank you for sharing her with us. Praying for you and your family as you walk forward. Thankful that you will one day be forever home in Heaven with her and the Lord Jesus. Ps.116:15

  • Lou Ann Brown

    Thank you, thank you. I read this in its entirety to my husband, both of us, eternally effected by your parent’s life and works. All we can say through our tears is Amen and Amen. You communicated to our hearts a love profound. As my husband always says when counseling, “the last chapter is not written yet”, I am encouraged to pray believing as she and just as she lived. Yes, this is the witness she gave to us. And now I want to put on Matthew’s Passion to play through the house., and return to our beloved Cleveland Museum of Art. Though I was an adult when her influence began, it has been passed down to our children and now young grandchildren. I think of this non reader child, me, becoming a reader and giving our children the world through books, a love for the world through our open door and all the people we welcomed, and a love for classical music by whetting their palate at the same time ours was being whetted. My prayer is that I be able to pass on even a small measure of what she has to this world. May these memories comfort your hearts and continue to give you much joy.

  • Dave Warnock

    Thank you for this beautiful piece. I am sorry for your loss.

  • David Moriah

    Frank, I can picture your Mom so vividly, making a cup of midnight tea in her kitchen in 1972 for a spiritually confused, long-haired seeker who by God’s grace alone wandered into a remarkable community of believers intending to spend just one night, but who left several weeks later and has never been the same since. We chatted about the turbulent times and about eternal truths, and though I was really one of the “nobodies” who had nothing to offer her or L’Abri, she made me feel like I was the most important person in the world to her. What a glorious tribute you’ve penned. Your gift for putting together just the right words brought, and is still bringing tears to my eyes as I write this message of condolences to you and your family. But even more impressive is the love which shines through those words. You are your mother’s son.

  • Kathrine Gathro

    Deepest condolences to you and your family. Thank you so much for sharing with us your thoughtful and very meaningful reflections. Loved it! The love of God spreads abroad in our lives and so thankfully, always works its message through the “it is what it is” of life. You bear witness to that reality.

  • Virginia Knowles

    I am in tears. This is beautiful. This the way I want to live, mother and teach. The Hidden Art of Homemaking was my early text nearly 30 years ago. Thank you.

  • Phil Binnie

    Thanks for your words.

  • Michael Marshall

    My condolences to you and your family. I am sure Edith received a heartfelt, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” from The Lord.

  • Judi Oswalt

    My condolences. I read several of your mother’s books and am so thankful that she shared her wisdom with a young mom wanting to raise her children loving the Lord and loving the gifts God gave us here on earth. She taught me to appreciate life.

    My children are young adults now and I am always told how wonderful they are. Some of the credit goes to your Mom. :)

  • James F. McGrath

    My heartfelt condolences, Frank.

  • Geoff Dennis

    Sorry for your loss. Your parents had a great impact on mine! So very grateful for a life well lived!

  • Carlos Vergara

    My condolences, thanks for sharing the wonderful tribute…

  • Kate Treick

    First, I want to offer my condolences on the loss of your mother. My grandmother spoke fondly of your mother, whom she had met at some point in their long lives. They were alike in several ways, and I could picture them talking together over tea and sharing their love of music and beauty and Christ. I have read and been encouraged by your mother’s books. The last line of your piece brought me to tears, as I pray for others, pray that they too will believe and we will have that hope of spending eternity together. Praying the Lord’s comfort for you in this time of sadness, even as tomorrow’s celebration of the resurrection of Christ gives us deep hope.

  • Audrey Lois

    What a beautiful tribute to your mother! Thank you for sharing your heart with us.

  • Kathryn Pugh

    Thank you for giving us a window into your family during this time of loss. Your mother’s well-lived life has instructed many, many people. including me. My prayers are with you all.

  • Veronica Zundel

    Great memories. Reminds me of my mother, Jenny Zundel (1915-2012), a Holocaust survivor who could be immensely irritating but who, with my father, gave me my love of literature, music, art and theatre and who achieved a great deal in the narrow space Hitler left to her (she would have become a doctor like my Gentile father if she hadn’t been banned from the university, but really she would have made a great translator or writer). I’m sure your mom will be a ballet dancer in the new creation.

  • Pamela Rawlins Box

    dear frank, you have never met me, but i was one of those “nobodies” your mother gifted with several copies of her books, personally autographed complete with pictures of mountains because we had a conversation about how much we loved our “mountains”…hers the alps and mine the andes. my husband, rick and i are missionaries with mtw to bogota, colombia. my life was so altered after reading your father’s book, “the God who is there”, so when we were in rochester, my one desire was to visit the la’bri there and extend my heartfelt thanks. to my surprise, your mother and her personal assistant were there in church that morning. i couldn’t believe how small and frail edith looked. i guess i had pictured your parents as much larger than life! thank you for writing this beautiful testament to edith’s life. i remember her as you have described and i have been forever changed and am a much better person for having been ministered to by your parents. God bless you and your family in this time of loss.

  • Marie


    I am so moved by your tribute to your mother that I hardly know where to begin. I am sorry for your loss but can tell through your words that you take great joy in all that she gave you. I hope it doesn’t sound selfish to thank you for this tribute, because I honestly needed words like these today. RIP dear Edith.

  • Jane Fettig

    First of all, our love from the Fettig family goes out to you and your family. I can say that, as all our children have used “How then shall we live” curriculum in our home education program.
    I don’t recall how I fell into the Schaeffers Books, but I do know the impact they have made on myself and my children. I had read L’Abri when young. But the book that made the most impact on me was her The Hidden Art of Homemaking. I recall thinking the title said it all. Was I in for a big surprise. I had been an art major in High School and that was not pleasing at all to my parents. And here was a book that said it was good to embrace that creativity. Now it was many, many years ago that I read the book but I do recall walking outside any time of year (this is S.Florida) and collecting things from my yard decorating tables and using that creativity your mother said was ok to use. Some how her books also brought me to believe that our six children were my canvas’ and to do something beautiful there. I have spent my life raising children and loving the Lord. Some would look at that and say what a waste. I don’t and I am thankful that your mother was one of my mentors. I look forward to one day meeting your parents. God Bless you and all the family.

  • Kathy White

    Your Mom was a touchstone in my life, particularly as a young mother. Her words and works helped me navigate the tricky waters in which I so often found myself as I raised four young children (three sons and a daughter). I never felt condemnation, only grace and encouragement from her. I was to have traveled as her companion once on a trip to Chicago, because her friend and agent knew that I was a great admirer of hers and offered me the opportunity. The needs of my own young family prevented me from going. It was a lifelong regret of mine. I am thankful for your words today, and even more thankful for the life of your mother. She was a remarkable woman indeed.

  • David Hayward

    Your parents were the first to inspire me into the joyful exercising of my intellect within Christianity and the Church. Condolences Frank.

    • Karen Field

      David, my experience, too. We had a mentor who was guiding us through the way to get to China as missionaries. I had heard of Francis Schaeffer before and this wonderful place called L’Abri but knew I’d never have the opportunity to go there, as wonderful as it sounded. This mentor of ours, my husbands’ and mine, made me open my eyes to the joy of having intellect and exercising it as a Christian. At the time I’d bought the evangelical fundamentalist church we had attended’s spoken rules about women’s roles in the Church but also the under the cover set of rules about women’s roles in the Church. I had half a brain, not literally, but had cowered in the corner after being accused by the Sr Pastor that I needed to stop thinking so much. My thought was that I could no more stop the wind from blowing than I could stop thinking so much. My second thought was that a loving God had given me the gift of being able to think about so many things and a direction from our mentor, who was in full knowledge of what was going on from an outsider’s point of view, stepped in and told me to start reading Francis Schaeffer. At first he told me to read anything by him. I finally got him to tell me where to start and he was pleased to see that I had your mother’s book, Hidden Talents, on my bookshelf. I read all of your father’s books that I could get my hands on and then all of CS Lewis. I’d been given, mistakenly I’m sure, the idea that your mother’s books were important but I’d get to them later. I’m so sorry I waited. I did do some of what she did but on such a small scale. I am so grateful to your parents for the work they did for the Body of Christ, as imperfect and wonderful as they were. That’s what grace is all about. Taking the imperfect, the yucky, ugly parts of people and doing as God does and covering them with grace. That doesn’t mean you don’t try to work out the difficulties while you are both alive but each gives grace to the other, or, in some cases, only one is able to give the grace and then just pray for the other one. The testimonies here indicate that God had big plans for your parents in ministry in a very different context that allowed many to partake of grace and love in their home and community. You must have felt some pressure by being their son. Keep the good, as you’ve written above about your mother. Forgive the rest and rejoice with the Church world-wide that they served the only God worth knowing and are in His peace, probably dancing with joy in His presence. Blessings.

  • Dianne Tant

    I was so priveleged to meet your Mom when they did a conference (Whatever Happened to the Human Race) here in Nashville long ago. we worked the conference and my husband, Mike, even drove Dr. Koop around town. I am so honored to have her book “afflicted” signed by her and her little drawing of birds on it. she was a wonderful woman and great ifluence in the Christian Community…Dianne Tant

    • Lewis

      Great experience! We attended the same event in Philadelphia. LC

  • grace

    I am sorry for your loss. May the peace and comfort of the Lord be with you.

  • Dan Brennan

    Thank you so much, Frank. Sorry for your loss. Prayers and you and your family.

  • http://aol Mike Carter

    I will never forget your wonderful mom and dad. They both were such an inspiration to my wife and me.

  • Elaine Ruhl

    Your mother is one of my favorite authors and people of all times. May the Lord God bring His joy to your hearts as you celebrate her homegoing.

  • Ric

    May God’s peace and comfort be with you and your family.

  • Kathy Lindstrom

    I am very sorry for your loss, and very grateful for your reflections on your mom’s life. I have read many of her books and have really been encouraged by them. What a beautiful soul. Thank you for writing this uplifting tribute.

  • martha brady

    frank, you wrote a beautiful post on your mother. my husband and i were privileged to go to L’Abri in 1976 with a group from JA (where we were missionaries). B/c we were with them, we had the opportunity to eat with your parents 3 nites during our stay. so delightful! i’m sure that much of my life since then was molded by those visits in the kitchen with your mom…and staying in the kitchen isn’t a common place for me to be!

    there is nothing like a genuine life to show truth in profound ways to the world. i just wish our evangelical world realized how powerful it is…more powerful than politics of either stripe, or believing the “correct” doctrine (which is important too, just not the MOST important all the time). It is also encouraging to realize that GOD in His wisdom is able to use frail people for His glory.

    I am sorry for your huge loss. At the same time, you are so fortunate for the wonderful gifts your mom passed on to you.

  • Michael Hyatt

    Thanks, Frank, for a wonderful tribute to an extraordinary lady. She meant the world to Gail and me as young newlyweds and new parents. She, along with your father, inspired us deeply. We still feel their impact on our lives to this day.

    My prayers are with you and your family.

  • Tim Glass

    My condolences on your mom’s passing – she will be greatly missed. I was a 19 year old nobody from Texas who purposefully landed at L’Abri in the middle of the night 41 years ago almost to the day – thinking it was some kind of philosophy training center and surely must be better than wasting my money at college. I found myself at breakfast with your dad – quite a sight in his knickers and goatee way before they were cool! – as your beautiful, tiny(as I remember her) mom bestowed delicious, farm fresh food upon us. I was shipped off to French L’Abri the next day for two life changing months unlike anything I could ever have anticipated. I have a shoebox full of b&w photos and remember fondly though dimly – Debbie and Udo and Oz and this phantom who appeared every now and then with his hair in a long ponytail who seemed to be a rebel for some sort of mysterious cause – oh, was that you, Frankie? Well, with a mom like Edith, it is no wonder you turned out so well after all! She and you whole family changed – and saved – so many lives by their words and example – thank you seems inadequate, but I sincerely offer it – I am blessed with three wonderful believing kids who are passing Christ’s love on today in no small part from your family’s efforts and example at L’Abri.

  • Chris Fabry

    I love the memories you share, Frank. Thanks for letting us see a little of the inside of the relationship.

  • Fr. Barnabas Powell

    May her memory be eternal.

  • Dawn Eggen-Mona

    I was at L’Abri in 1979-80. I remember your parents well. I too turned against religious evangelical fundamentalism, and though I never had to rebel as hard as you did, I also have taken abuse from a family and their friends who view me as less than Christian.

    Thank you so much for writing this tribute. I remember how wonderful she was. It was probably her influence that drew me to l’Abri in the first place. I loved doing the chores there and spending time with the people. I relished the time spent with your sisters and their families, and the other leaders. The reading and education I received has lived in me, probably not the way your father intended, but to clarify much about life and Christianity for me. The influence of your parents, and all of you, lives on!

  • Carla B

    Thank you for this wonderful tribute and detailed reminder to we who were introduced to many “new” faith concepts through your parents’ and particularly for me, your mohter’s writing. To read such personal details written as you face your loss and grief adds meaning to their content and enriches the message to live a life of love, faith and goodness no matter what others say or think. I am saddened for your loss and appreciate your willingness to share your mother and your memories with us.

  • Kim

    May her memory be eternal! I never met her, but her book, Affliction, helped me through a very dark time. This tribute is so affirming of everything that truly matters. Thnk you for sharing it.

  • Rachel P

    I read the tribute all the way through. It made me think of my own mother…her life and her death…I think they will be great friends in heaven…

  • Jordan

    This is so beautiful. I am sorry for the loss of your precious mother. I pray for much comfort for you. I too am thankful for her productive life of beauty. I know her through her books, primarily Hidden Art, and her words and example inspire me greatly as I care for my own children.

  • Roderick Earl Hoffman

    My sincere condolences at the loss of your mom. Thank you for sharing your heart and soul. I read your tribute in it’s entirety. Was moved to tears on several occasions. May God give you comfort and draw near to you as you grive her loss.

    May God Bless You,

    Roderick Earl Hoffman

  • Chuck Wallce

    I knew your Mother from her time in Rochester. She was indeed a dear woman.

    I lost my Mom last year and can understand your loss. I was moved to tears by your final words to your mom.

    She is face to face with her dear Savior and will be there to greet you when you come face to face with your Savior!

  • Rebecca Wilson Parry

    Your love for your mother is so palpably real, Frank, as you mourn and grieve her loss. Her love for you was God’s way of showing His love for you, too. She was a gift to your family and the world. I was first discipled as a new Christian in 1979 (having come to faith through reading CS Lewis’ “Mere Christianity” only a few weeks prior) by studying Francis Schaeffer’s “True Spirituality” at Greystone Presbyterian Church in Indiana, PA while attending a university Sunday School class. I went on to read many more of Francis’ books and read one by Edith. I am so moved by your tribute to your beloved mother. Take comfort in cherishing so many memories with her and in continuing her ways and traditions of honoring Jesus Christ in all of life in your own family’s life. -Rebecca Wilson Parry, Cape Town, South Africa

  • Nancy Penton

    Dear Frank,
    I was at Swiss L’Abri in the summer of 1976. I remember eating dinner with your parents and asking questions as a student there. My recollection of one of my conversations with you was when you provided fireworks on the 4th of July that year and the Swiss officials insisted that we stop the fireworks display you had worked so diligently to orchestrate…something about a fire hazard… Your parents taught me why to believe and how to think beyond the current questions evangelicals were asking and answering at the time. Thank you for writing such a beautiful tribute to your mother. Your family has been very influential in my life and in the lives of my husband and three sons, as well. Sincere condolences from us…Nancy Penton…

  • Patricia Krank

    Dear Frank – I have tears on my face as I finish reading the lovely words you’ve penned in memory of your dear mother. I didn’t know her, except through her writing, but I have long admired her and her philosophy of life. I read Tapestry when my own children were babies and I knew that I wanted to raise them with the same openness to others ways of thinking, rather than keep them in our own little Christian box. I am a conservative Christian fundamentalist, just like your mother, but I believe in loving people where they are, not trying to win them over to my way of thinking. Loving God and loving people. That is the most important thing I learned from Edith Schaeffer.

    My deepest condolences to you and your family. May your wonderful memories of your mom bring you great comfort and peace.

    Patti Krank

  • barbara rainey

    Your mom was a long distance mentor to me through her books, all heavily marked and often quoted. She inspired me in so many ways and I’ll be forever grateful. I look forward to meeting her one day in heaven.
    She was a gift to so many of us women.

  • http://Patheos Mark Edward Hessinger

    Well done, Edith Schaeffer, you good and faithful and beautiful woman of God!

  • Frank Schaeffer

    Dear Everyone who commented here so very kindly. I read all of what you said here and found comfort, thank you. Mom would be thrilled to be so lovingly thought of just now by you.
    Love Frank

  • Gordon Schneider

    Frank – I am glad to learn of your mom’s passing through such a touching tribute from you rather than some dry recital from the press. We are very grateful for what you’ve done here. God be with you and your family!

  • http://Patheos Alie Cooper

    I’ve been crying hearing of your dear mother’s death and reading your beautiful words that honor her life and faith. Thank you for them. I have a sweet memory of a ‘retreat’ day while I was a student at L’Abri, probably in 1979 or so..a day of prayer led by your mother. It was a lovely experience. Her books meant so much to me, particularly ‘Affliction’. I will always treasure her example of faith, faithfulness, love, and hard work, and beauty. I am so glad that she is free from earthly shackles now! Blessings, Mr. Schaeffer.

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  • Dana Ames

    Memory eternal.

    Condolences to your family.

    I found your parents’ books when I was in college, and read nearly all of them, along with all of C.S. Lewis, in my early 20s. They were my first Christian “mentors,” and gave me a great gift: assurance that I didn’t have to check my brains or esthetic sensibilities at the doors of the church.

    Thank you for letting us know, and letting us in.

  • beverly b petersen {schafer}

    She made my bones strong, my soul rich, and my spirit soar. Glory to God for her amazing life ,family, and discipline to share this gift with women everywhere through her writings. Long before you wrote and spoke to us Frank, I somehow knew, that if she could live the faith and walk with Jesus in her life, and marriage, so could I. Her example is the foundation of my friendships, and encouragement with dear women in my life. She opened my eyes to beauty and aspirations beyond my knowing or believing. Thank you for understanding and loving your mom ,as she indeed loved you. May you find the joy of our Lord and His peace in your sorrow. Bev

  • Fr. Gregory Hogg

    May her memory be eternal!

  • Rex-Elliott Humrich

    Frank, this is a tribute from a son to a mother for the ages. It is moving and intensely joyful. I lived at L’Abri Huemoz for the school year 1964-1965, and visited there several times a month through the early 1970′s, and from time to time after that. I see your Mother before me as if she just left the room. But I cannot for the life of me see her without her smile!! I was for a long time an organist at Farrell Chapel, and toured with the L’Abri Ensemble along with Jane Stuart Smith and Frances Kramer. Your mother in fact adored music and would frequently ask me to play for her. Walking into her kitchen and into Les Melezes was always like coming home. Your Mom and I were always happy to see each other as if we were kin. I have missed her through all these intervening years. I am happy to know that she was cared for and nurtured so lovingly by you, Debby and Udo, and others through her final days. Thank you for this truly exquisite essay and tribute! Love and warm thoughts to you, Frank!

    • Frank Schaeffer

      Hi Elliott! How lovely of you to write to me now. I remember you well and the wonderful music you made. Mom loved you. Thank you on this day, Frank

  • David Johnson

    Memory eternal, Edith. Frank, the comfort of the Lord to all of you.

  • Kent Shaffer

    Beautiful words. Heartfelt condolences.

  • Cheryl Markowitz

    Thank you Frank for writing about your mom on the very day she passed into Jesus’ presence. I’m sure that was hard for you. I learned about L’abri and your parents when I was in college. I was on tour with a singing group and a family I was staying with had your mom’s book, “Tapestry.” I asked if I could borrow it to take with me on tour to read. My hostess graciously agreed to let me take it if I promised to send it back to her when I returned from tour. I read that book cover to cover and it continues to have a lasting impression on me. I never did send it back. I just wanted to keep it!!

    After reading the book I really wanted to visit L’abri, meet your parents and have meaningful conversations with them. I never had that opportunity but I told many others about L’abri with the hope that someone would go and experience it and read their books!

    I am now in the midst of reading “Christianity is Jewish.” I am a Messianic Jew and I too believe that the gospel starts in Genesis so I am thoroughly enjoying reading her book.

    My prayers are with you and your entire family. Edith loved Jesus and she lived that out. She and Francis were a blessing to me from afar. I look forward to sitting with her worshipping our Lord Jesus together one day.


  • Karen Butler

    Of course your mother didn’t care what the world thought about her, Frank. She modeled transparency for you in her book, “What is a Family?”

    When I read in it how your father would pitch a fit sometimes and throw a philodendron across his office, and how your mom would repot it after every tantrum, I breathed a sigh of relief. Finally someone told me about a Christian family that looked like mine. Everyone’s looked so nice and neat, and I was so confused. I had never been in one before. I had no idea what I was doing. I had no idea what a Christian family was supposed to look like, and I was sure they never looked like mine, all messy from pitched fits, and depression, too. And the patience of that plant became a symbol to me of resilience and the work of God’s grace in a family like mine. “What is a Family?” changed my life. It gave me such hope at a dark time.

    Thank you, for your honesty, Edith Schaeffer– I wish I had said this when you were alive. I pray Frank, that you have the hope of heaven that your mother had, that kept her patiently repotting that poor benighted plant.

  • Karen Frick

    Thank you for sharing the beautiful memories of your mom. As a new Christian in the 70′s I read some of your parents’ books but not till I started rereading them in the last two years did I realize the depth of wisdom they each shared. I love that your mom loved you not just for what you “do” but because you are “you”. It’s a testimony of love that many Christians seem incapable of…..loving a person, especially a family member, with all their rough edges. My husband and I extend our sympathy to you and Debby and your family. You and the world have lost a treasure in your mom but we do look forward to meeting her in Heaven one day. May this Easter be a celebration of His promise….He is Risen and Edith is with him this Resurrection Day!

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  • Bonnie Carlson

    Dear Frank and Schaeffer Family,
    Your mother was an inspiration to me as a home-schooling mother of five and homemaker. I had met both your parents in MN during the 70′s and learned so much from them both. I attended one of your mom’s special conferences in Rochester, MN also. What an impact she had on me! Her books inspired me, but mostly her beautiful character was such a Godly example and role model. You were blessed indeed, as you have also blessed others through your own books, writings, and art. Your tribute to your mom is touching and poignant. To God be the glory! Precious in the sight of The Lord is the death of His saints.

  • Lee Trueblood

    thank you so much for sharing this precious time with us. She was a saint and I was very aware of that when I was influenced by her 40 years ago. I love the hope we have in our faith. God bless you.

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  • James Jarvis

    Today Heaven rejoices and the earth weeps.

  • Eileen Unger

    I met Edith Schaeffer when she teamed up with The Kaifa Group, for whom I spent several years working/volunteering for, to travel to China. She hardly knew me when we talked on the phone while I was working at home with two small children. She prayed over the phone with me for my family and shared her wisdom with me about family and life and more. I had never been prayed for before like that. It changed me forever. I was blessed to have met her in person after that and will never forget her.

  • Nadine Kincaid

    Lovely words for a lovely lady Frank! I was privileged to study at L’Abri for about a month in 1981, and only got to hear your mother once, but to me she was the “filter” and “funnel” that put your father’s theology into practical life application. L’Abri was a very special place, and I loved my time there.

  • Mel Jones

    I once heard your mother speak about a rose and Jesus’ love for us. She spoke for about an hour and was truly amazing. I don’t know how she did it but a rose was in front of her as she explained the many wonders of the Lord and conveyed His deep love for us. She was beautiful and real. I could tell that she was a person who cared for people and loved them where they were in life. I could tell that she wanted True Truth. Of course she had the humility to bow down to our Lord and follow Him. This was evident. There will be many cab drivers, maids, rabbis, first ladies, housewives, chefs, construction workers and artists in heaven because of her obedience to profess the hope, truth, love and grace that is in Jesus. It is good to see that you too believe that what she how lived wasn’t a lie but True Truth. She lived that life that was transformed by the Lord. She followed Him. It’s great that you too will join her. What a blessing to have had Edith for so many years.

  • Anna

    Mr. Schaeffer,
    I was a student at Swiss L’Abri only 10 years ago. I was a fairly confused PK, just returning from an internship with an evangelical missions agency in East Africa. I went to L’Abri with a load of questions but pretty unaware of what the place was all about. I am not exaggerating when I say my “3-month stay” which turned into a year and a half was absolutely life-altering. It was there that I was introduced to the likes of Joni Mitchell and Karl Barth and Wim Wenders and Nick Drake. It was there that I saw the love of Jesus, tender listening skills, love of the arts, and careful theologizing. It was mesmerizing and God used my time there to breathe new life into me. Although I met your mom in her later years, and in a state where she told me the exact same story every time we spoke, her life greatly affected mine. Through their radical (crazy?) belief that God wanted them to open their home to strangers and simply talk to them, I have married, parented, read, taught and hopefully spoken differently. Blessings this Resurrection Day for you and yours.

  • Tom Kushman

    Frank… Thank you for your words today. Your Mother’s books gave me A Way of Seeing, for which I am very grateful! Great Peace to you and the whole family today.

  • Fr. Glen DeShaw

    Frank, I am so sorry for your, and our loss. Your mom was a fine lady, with a strong independent loving streak which she passed along to you, to our benefit. God’s peace and grace be with you at this time of reflection and grief, and keep you always in His loving grasp.

  • Lolo

    My deepest sympathies to you and your family. Your mother’s writing (and sister Susan’s) were foundational in my homemaking and homeschooling with my family. Your mother inspired me to bring beauty and culture into my family, although I knew nothing of it previously, and it will live on in the lives and families of my own children. Your Eulogy is absolutely beautiful – loving, kind, forgiving, thankful and full of grace. The words you’ve written would bless any mother’s heart. Thank you so much for sharing this with us. I’m sorry for your loss.

  • Katrina Kraenzlin

    Thankyou Franky. I am profoundly touched by this tribute to your mother. I would like my sons to be able to do the same for me when I pass on to glory! I was introduced to your father through my father, Denis McWilliam, at that time a Maths teacher at Aiglon College in Chesiere(1977). The irony was that my father, being a liberal theologian, totally disagreed with your father and yet introduced me to him. By attending an open meeting conducted by your brother-in-law, Udo, in Chesieres I found out after 10 years of seeking (from age 13 to 23) that GOD IS REAL!! For this I am so thankful to your family!! :)

  • David M Ross, Jr.

    Aloha Frank,

    I am originally a Pennsylvania boy, who lived in Lausanne, Switzerland from January through June 1976, and came to know Jesus over Easter weekend, April 8th-10th. I spent four weekends at L’Abri while I was studying French from April-June. It was a privilege to meet your father and be among the L’Abri fellowship. I still remember so many things that the Holy Spirit deeply impressed on me at that time. Your description of your Mom’s interests is very much how I would describe Mary Sue , whom I married in 1977. She loves and is an artist with words. She loves art and the classics. She too had parents who were in the China Inland Mission until the revolution in 1950. The roots are very much the same.

    37 years later, there is unresolved pain in the hearts of many who have been closely related to “full time service” for God. The picture each of us reflects of His character is flawed, because we are flawed. This Easter Weekend I am grateful to remember of His victory over our flaws. His spirit alone knows that pathway through the gauntlet thrown down by the enemy of our souls, as he attempts to wound us at every turn. His comfort and healing alone are deep enough to heal our wounds and comfort our souls. I pray He will comfort you this weekend.

    Your Mom lived the life spoken of in John 13:34-35

    John 13:34 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
    John 13:35 “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

    The result was beautifully stated in your last sentence:

    “I’ll miss her voice. I learned to trust that voice because of the life witness that backed it up. I know I’ll hear her voice again. You won Mom. I believe.”

    I pray our Father in heaven will flood you with His love today, and comfort your heart. I would love to meet you one day, if you ever come to Hawaii.

    He Akua Hemolele


  • Philip Yancey

    Fine tribute, Frank. All of us products of that era inherited a mixed legacy. You remember what’s most important, and lasting.

  • Cheryl Williamson

    May God’s never ending, never failing, faithful, gracious, redeeming love fill your heart with comfort.
    Thank you for sharing your beautiful memories. Although I was never privileged to meet your Mom in person, she has been one of the greatest mentors in my life. In my early twenties, I read L’Abri and then searched high and low to find every book I could find written by her. When I read them, I felt like I was sitting at a kitchen table sharing a pot of tea with her, while she mentored me in the faith.
    Her wisdom, love for beauty, trust in God, care for the small details, ability to transform ordinary things into things of value, industriousness, love for others, noteworthy care for her children and grandchildren, commitment to prayer and the study of Scripture, selflessness in serving those around her, faithfulness to her husband, and determination to make her family a priority are some of the things I treasure about her.
    During years living abroad, during seasons when I didn’t have many other women to learn from, I read and re-read The Tapestry and L’Abri family letters, pouring over the stories, your family’s history, the family pictures, just absorbing as much as I could and wanting to be like her. She was beautiful, with an even more beautiful character, and she leaves a tremendous legacy in this world through her example.
    I give copies of L’Abri as gifts, share my copies, and have recommended her books every chance I have been given over the years…hoping that other women will “discover” your Mom and be able to be mentored by her as I have.
    I will always remain thankful for your Mom and her life.

  • Michael Stanley

    “HaMakom y’nachem etkhem b’tokh sh’ar aveilei Tzion v’Yrushalayim”–”May God comfort you among all the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.” May you always remember that it was His grace that gave you a mother of such great faith, love, compassion, talent and zest for living, but it was His kindness and mercy toward a once wayward son that allowed her to be in your life for 60 plus years. You both were blessed, as was your entire family as well as those whom she and you have touched and will yet touch in the future though the printed word. Thank you for such a moving tribute. I’m sure she remains proud of your life, work and family. Shalom.

  • Connie Paetsch

    Thank you so much for this wonderful tribute to your mom. So sorry for your loss, but we never lose the memories. My mother was less grand in deeds, but she was grand in my heart. Her passing and the passing of my dad were gifts from God. I was able to walk them into heaven and be by their side. I’m glad you had SKYPE.

    Your writings speak to my heart. At an early age I was introduced to a couple we called Ma and Pa Piazza. They were my link to God. They were Pentecostal and took me, by sister and brother to church every Sunday until I was married. I married a Catholic, whose beliefs were definitely different than mine. We have been married over 40 years and have fought through the religious fights. I am still Pentecostal at heart. Ma and Pa Piazza worked to teach us what was right. They are now with mom and dad in heaven and heaven is all the richer for it.

    May God stand with you during your time of loss.

  • Jackie Nims

    My life has been so enriched by having the privilege of knowing Edith Schaeffer. She left our family an overflowing basket of treasured memories. Having gone with my husband Jerry and our two small daughters to study at L’abri, we were thrilled to be included for Sunday lunch which was an experience in itself. She had our girls making “dough creations” in her kitchen and
    giving them a special lunch as well! When my husband (a businessman) had kitchen duty, that was another memorable experience. Her love of beauty was surpassed only by her apparent devotion and love for her children and her husband. Edith Schaeffer was filled with joy and a desire to make her Savior available to all who sought Him. How happy she must be to finally see Him in person. Dear Edith, you will be sorely missed. Our loving thoughts and prayers go out to the family.

  • Frank Schaeffer

    Thank you all so much, I read each comment and will pass these on to the rest of the family. Mom “cast her bread” on the waters and her bread was the love that is coming back tenfold through the lives she touched by just being herself. Thank you all. I’m so grateful you took the time to respond. Love Frank

    • David BelleIsle

      Touched by your loss, and ours, I pray that the God of all comfort will fulfill His promise to comfort those who mourn, comforting you and yours at this difficult time. May He meet you in rich, deeply meaningful ways, washing over your grief with waves of His comforting love and presence as you mourn. I believe the capacity to grieve is an innate part of the God-image in each of us, reminding us of how glorious it was to love and be loved. Your mother loved you deeply and you she. We celebrate that love with you and therefore deeply mourn your loss. Grace and peace to you.

  • Dale Lature (@dlature)

    Beautiful, Frank. Thank you so much for giving us this. You’ve given us the gift of your Mom’s life through your wonderful writing (and opportunities I’ve had to hear you talk about her).


  • Annette

    The important things in life are often pondered quietly in our hearts and held privately, lest others not understand. Thank you for sharing this passing, your heart, and your memories with us – it is a gift. May God comfort you in your time of loss.

  • Rachel Marie Stone
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  • Antoinette Herrera

    I am saddened to read of your mother’s passing, sir. Memory Eternal.

  • Tracy Davis

    Edith’s books, especially “What is a Family” and “The Hidden Art of Homemaking” profoundly influenced me as a young wife and mother. I now have 12 children and have best followed her example in reading great literature aloud to them. Franks’s tribute makes me want to follow her example more in music and art, but especially in love.

  • Rex-Elliott Humrich

    Everyone should read Rachel Marie Stone’s tribute to Edith Schaeffer in “Christianity Today”.

  • LeRoy Whitman

    Franky, that is a beautiful tribute to your Mom; thanks for sharing it. I read it out of respect for the benefit your parents were to me as a new young believer out of college, finding my way through theological liberalism. I met you only once – at a fundraiser for a Crisis Pregnancy Center in southeastern Pennsylvania. You autographed the last copy you had there of your then-new Sham Pearls for Real Swine, and shoved it at me with a smarmy, “This is for you, Bub” that took me aback … as did the book, as I read it. Your father was a great man, if imperfect like all of us. Thank you for making the importance of your mother known to us as well.

  • Rachel McKinney

    Frank, God bless you as you remember your wonderful mother, Edith. While I never got to L’Abri (although I longed to go there), your parent’s ministry was much in my heart as I grew up. I was a PK, too, and I walked as a rebel for a number of years. My mother always listened to me, never argued with me, always loved me. She would say, “I gave you to God many years ago and I trust God with you.” Now in my 77th year I can say that her trust in God kept me and brought me back to a sweet knowledge that I serve a loving God who always “had my back” no matter what I was doing. I now look back sometimes with pain and repentance but God was always there loving me and leading me into the right path. Reading the Bible was my mother’s greatest joy and I couldn’t understand what she saw in it. But now, this is also my greatest joy. Every day I learn more and more. God bless you, Frank, and the whole Schaeffer family. Just think, your mother is now face-to-face with Jesus!

  • Glenda Childers

    I loved reading your memories of your sweet mom. Thank you so much for sharing them with us.


  • Walter Ray

    Thank you for sharing your mom’s last days with us. My sincere condolences on your loss. May her memory be eternal.

  • Beth from Ancaster Ontario Canada

    My friends and I often put out special things….flowers, pretty placemats, candles, homemade soup, all backed by classical music. And then we say “Edith would approve” and we laugh and giggle and teach our kids to do the same. Your mother has blessed many of us with her hidden art. We’ll miss her even though we never met in person. Thank you for such a warm and honest tribute.

  • Joseph Brandli

    I have a wonderful memory of enjoying your mother’s hosting of a bible study in her Rochester home in the summer of 1988. As my new bride and I were about to set out for an adventure having taken a job in Baltimore we attended a L’Abri study. It was your son’s birthday I believe. He was visiting. Your mother arranged the pink and yellow lemonade in a beautiful pattern on the table. It was thrilling to be there as I had been heavily influenced by her and your father’s writings. I have followed a similar journey as yours and become “a liberal” in my middle age. Your mom will be missed by many and her beauty lives on a little in all of us who had a glimpse of her…..and I believe you (and she) are right about the important things. Prayers for your comfort.


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  • Bill Norton

    I want to thankyou for your tribute that you posted about your dear mother. Years ago we knew each other at L’Abri. We both were very young. I appreciate how your family helped my life.
    You truly have a heritage!! May Gods presence be so near to you at this time.
    Bill Norton GHS

  • MarilynBr

    I met your mother not in person but through her book, Affliction. I have the suffering temperament and feel pain not only from my own suffering but also from the suffering of others. Your mother’s book is the only one I have read that gave me an adequate explanation to find meaning in affliction. God bless her memory and I know she will rejoice in Heaven.

  • Laurie Cutter

    I grew up overseas, the child of missionaries, and relate to many of your stories of life with parents in Christian ministry. My mother would have loved to sit down to tea with your mother and compare notes! She engaged anyone in conversation, from a Turkish woman newly arrived in Oregon, to the president of the hospital board, or the proprietor of our local “head shop.” I believe that’s another quality both our mothers shared.

    Thanks for such an honest and loving commemoration of your mom!

  • Becky Johnson

    Oh, Frank. I’m a mess of tears. You could not have written a more honest and beautiful tribute to a mother’s pure love. I’m thankful that my parents (in their mid-seventies now) whose lives were changed by and influenced so deeply by your parents’s lives, books, a summer at L’bri, and a beautiful afternoon with your mom at her chalet…happened to be with us in Colorado yesterday. I told them the news of Edith’s passing, personally. Today Daddy began reading this piece,and got too choked up to talk. All he could do was whisper, “It’s so good. Frankie did good.” Indeed, you did. Love to you and yours. Comfort, joy, and eternal hope. Becky

  • Marie Sirk

    My deepest sympathy to you and your family. You don’t know me, but I am another profoundly impacted by your mother. About 10 years ago I read virtually all of her books and was forever changed by them. I wrote your mother a long letter telling her of my very hard life and childhood having lost my own mother when I was 4. I told her how even though we had never met she had become like a mom to me and greatly influenced me. I did not know at the time it was God preparing me for the gift of my son 8 years ago. I know I am a better mother to him for the time I spent with your mother in her books. Your mother was so kind and wrote back to me in a Forever Music book from Debby’s collection complete with mountain drawings. I treasure the book dearly and will never forget her taking the time to a write back to a nobody in such a personal way. I am so saddened by her passing but remember her final words she wrote in the book…”we will meet someday-if not in this world-in the place God is preparing for us more beautiful than eyes have ever seen.”

  • Frank Schaeffer

    I continue reading all these lovely notes, and thank you. My mother would love this interaction between us all here. Love and Best, Frank

  • Leslye Morgan Schneier

    We embrace you and yours at this time of loss and thank you for your tribute to your Mom. I often wondered whatever became of the angry young man Franky, and I’m overjoyed to learn! We met your Mom en route from Israel through Switzerland in 1978 and still remember the message in the wood chalet…how sons and servants might look the same but the difference is their relationship to the Father. But here’s a memory few know about….
    We were to have dinner with Edith after she was the guest speaker at The Lamb’s Theater in Manhattan. One member of her entourage was caught up in an animated discussion after the meeting, and though your Mom was the famous guest speaker, and the hour was late, and she was very tired from travels, she waited and waited. She leaned over to David and I and said,
    “I never like to interrupt a conversation….usually you can never pick it up again and something important can be lost forever.” It was a life-changing insight for me into the essence of your Mom’s spirituality, and it was a lesson learned. After a very, very long wait we all went to dinner at a lovely Japanese restaurant with dark grey walls, mirrors, and enormous arrangements of exotic crimson flowers. And there was Edith alive in the midst…animated, full of energy, and waxing both eloquent and intimate. She was quite a lady! Do come visit us if you’re ever in Paris, Franky!

  • Carl

    Thanks for the wonderful account of your mother, Frank. My sincere condolences on yours and your family’s loss. What a great lady. What a great son she raised.

  • http://patheos Mark Edward Hessinger

    Frank, Your Mom & Dad were only human . . . but oh what very special human beings they were. They together took the ordinary stuff of this life that we all receive in common with each other at least to to one degree or another, and they made something extraordinarily beautiful out of it all. I’m personally glad for their flaws, as well, for they give me hope for beauty in my own life’s story. Love, Mark

  • N Gallagher

    Thank you for your beautiful thoughts about your mom. Each person I know who read this was very touched by it.
    I desired to live like her, but fell down so often. “Hidden Art” was and is very inspiring. How I regret the many times I tore down rather than building up…and I call myself a Christian. After reading this tribute, I am even more inspired.
    Thank you.
    I am so glad for the last line of this tribute

  • C Dufty

    Thanks and condolences Frank – a beautiful tribute from the heart! Not only have you conveyed your parents’ stories to us as best you could (sans halos, plus a few blemishes) but you’ve instructed us how to love the not-yet whole (all of us). Can’t ask much more of a writer. To paraphrase Browning, “Ah but a (woman’s) reach should exceed her grasp, or what’s a heaven for!”

  • B Forster

    Frank, Praying God’s comfort for you in this loss. In the 80’s in Houston, Texas I was at my next-door neighbor’s when her phone rang. Some how your mother had dialed her number when meaning to dial someone else in her address book. Your mother said something like “there are no accidents, let’s talk” and proceeded to have a very long and uplifting conversation that my friend needed very much. Both of us dined on the fruit of that conversation for days. I had forgotten about this until I was reading the article you wrote on your mother’s passing. Add two more to the list of those she touched.

  • Janene

    A beautiful legacy so well put. Praise God for mothers who love Him, live Him and go to eternity with Him where we will join them in His time. Thanks, Frank!!!

  • Joëlle Fretz

    Dear Frank,
    My deepest condolences to you and all your family members. And thank you for your magnificent tribute to your mother. Reading it made me remember all the good days of l’Abri Fellowship and I got moved by these memories.
    R.I.P dear Edith Schaeffer, may the Lord welcome her in His Light.
    I feel very privileged by having got to know your mom and your dad as well as all your family ,as I was a child and teenager in Arveyes then in Chesières, and I know my parents and two brothers feel the same.
    Actually, we heard the sad news as we were together in Chalet Gentiana for Easter with my parents and my brother Philippe, his wife Stephanie, their kids Adele and Zacharie, and my son Jonas. We went to church in Villars on Easter Sunday for the Easter celebration and you know what…The pastor Antoine had invited Greg, Lisby and L’Abri students to attend the service that Sunday to allow a meeting with the church members of Villars.. Just on that Sunday… As we had all heard the news of the passing away of Mrs Schaeffer the day before, the pastor said a few words in her memory and expressed his thoughts and prayers for your family. Then introduced L’Abri to the members, asked each student to say where they came from. Then, one of the Villars church members talked about his L’Abri experience as he was a kid…
    It was so moving : Edith’s death had allowed a meeting of L’Abri and the Church of Villars on Easter Sunday 2013…We thought that was really special. Thanks to the Lord.

    Personally I will always remember Mrs Schaeffer :her voice, her beauty, her class, her generosity and warmth towards anyone she would talk to or meet. Of course as a child I didn’t understand much as a Swiss French speaking girl, but she made such a great impact on my parents’ faith and way of living that I and my brothers received her wonderful spiritual teachings through them and especially from my mum who loved her very much and worked for her several years.
    My mom made us love the Lord and his beautiful creation, and for example read C.S. Lewis to us (in English!) as we were kids, and made us love music, theatre, paintings…
    I remember Mrs Schaeffer’s incredibly decorated tables and Sunday meals at “Les Chardonnerets, her very long prayers and the beautiful music playing loud in the house… I remember how I was impressed as a girl by her beauty, her hair, her beautiful smile and energy, her glance in her eyes..
    I last saw her two years ago at 1st of August parade in front of the Chalet Gentiana in Chesières. She and Debbie and Udo would’nt miss the parade of 1st of August for anything. They were each year the first ones arrived, to get the best spot for the parade and not miss a second of it.
    Thank you to your mom for all she did and gave to my family, with your dad they were our spiritual mentors for us all in the Fretz family and we owe them so much. God bless her memory.
    And thank you for the honest and touching words you wrote and for all you do and write in general. Through your books I also got to know more about your special mom.
    I send you my loving thoughts and prayers and please pass them to the whole family.
    Joelle, Geneva Switzerland

  • Y

    I hope The Sacred Spirit of your mother will not dim as your years go on. It sounds like she touched many in the most positive ways we humans are capable of. You and you family carry The Scared Spirit that guided her. Relive this spirit very consciously every day. Don’t wait to see and hear her only after you’re dead.

  • Darrell

    Very sorry for your loss. Your parents’ writings meant so much to me and made a huge difference in my life.

  • Lana

    I am sorry for your lost. I have read your autobiography, and I learned so much of my past-fundamental self through it. And I read this, and got tears all in my eyes. Very sweet and tender.

  • Barb Pine

    Edith. My journals hold her notes, a few letters, a fallen hairpin, some of the daily jottings of menus and intentions. My heart holds memories of conversations, her voice, worries, prayers and the Edith pace. She, truly, a rare and wonderful combination of contradictions.

  • Erin

    I’ve read most of your Mom’s books and found them highly encouraging and inspiring. She obviously had a very different personality and energy level than I do, however, like her, I am a ministry wife, American expat, mother, and homemaker. Because of her books, I read classic books more often to my kids, practice hospitality with more joy, discipline myself to read the Bible every day no matter what, and say yes more often to ministry opportunities. I read your books about her, Frank, and I don’t think they took away from her or diminished her. I find her a more accessible role model for knowing she was not perfect.

  • Mark H. Harris

    Dear Frank,
    My deepest condolences to you and your family members at a sad and difficult time; yet a time full of glorious hope. My prayers are with you, and for you.
    I am profoundly influenced by your mother’s work, her writing, and her “style”. She and your father remain two of my most beloved couples; inspirational and truly real. I miss them both.
    Your tribute is fabulous… thank you so much for sharing with us. I live in Rochester, MN… its a beautiful spring day here today… still some snow… yet definitely spring. I walked through Oakwood Cemetery this afternoon and spent some time at your father’s tomb. It is such a beautiful and peaceful place…. a very good place to quietly remember such a lovely person as your mother.
    Edith, thank you for your wonderful life… thank you for Frank… thank you for showing so many of us the way, the truth, and the life. Rest in peace.

    mark h. harris

  • Judy Streeeter

    Having read most of Edith Schaeffer’s books, along with two face-to-face conversations with her, my life has been enriched and guided by her wisdom and creativity. She came into my life at just the right time, when I was a mother of young children, and she gave me a perspective on all of life that I would not have had otherwise. Fully aware of God’s providential timing, I will be forever grateful. You have suffered a great loss. Thank you for this tribute.

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  • Jeff Trueman

    Thank you, Frank, for this oh so personal and touching tribute to a great woman, your mom. You do her justice. She’d be proud and “blessed” to read these words. You set an example in your obvious love for your mom. Condoglianze, amico mio. JEFF

  • Carol Cutler

    Frank, I just read your precious memories about your mother to my friend Mitzie Hembree. Mitzie has been in Switzerland to visit your parents and she has had your mom in her home here in Oklahoma City about 24 years ago for a group of ladies. I was there and have her signed book, with mountains and birds drawn above her inscription. I have many of their books. I met your Dad through Bible Study Fellowship when he spoke to the leaders in 1976. I hope it is fine for me to type out your words to share with others and be inspired as Mitzie and I have been today. It is such evidence that Jesus is alive and active in our lives. Your last words resulted in heavy tears of great praise and joy. “You win mom….I believe.” You have given such hope to many people. Your mother wrote to me: “Carol, with fond memories of our time together in BSF…and expectations of the FOREVER together! With love, Edith”. God bless you as you keep carrying on with grace and truth. Thank you so much, carol

  • Jean Stepnoski

    Frank, my condolences for you and your family. Your parents books meant very much to me. I had the immense joy and pleasure of seeing and hearing Edith early in November in 1985. She was a special guest at an event called Whole Woman Day here in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. She shared two lectures with us, morning and evening sessions. I still have my copies of her lectures on cassette. I will never part with them! I was listening to them today, before I heard of her passing. It was her birthday and we had cake for her. She mentioned that she wished she could share a cup of tea and cake with each of us. She said that even though that was something we could not do, that is part of Heaven and eternity will be about, to share with each other personally what Christ has meant for us. That special day was one of the most important days in my life. Thank you for your very moving memories of Edith. I treasure them. I hope to see all the Schaeffers in Christ’s eternal kingdom. With Love and Shalom, Jean Stepnoski

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  • Gloria

    I thought it was really sad that the NY Times article had quotes from your book. An unbelieving world that has the chance to read her books filled with so much belief will be directed to your books. Why did you have to work out your stuff in front of unbelievers who love to burst bubbles and need to see Him……..

    • http://Patheos Mark Edward Hessinger


      Frank is nothing if not his mother’s son. Edith Schaeffer was a prolific writer, among so many other things, and so is Frank. I too disliked both the New York Times’ obituary, as well as did I dislike the one I read in World magazine, both relied too much on secondary, rather than original sources, in my opinion.

      Unbelievers can pick up any of Edith Schaeffer’s books any time any one of them wants to do so, or better yet they can pick up that favorite of all literature not only of Edith Schaeffer but also of almost every human being who has ever had the chance to read it, the Holy Bible. Therein can a soul find true faith, if ever that soul longs to find Him.

      Peace, Sister!

      Love, Mark

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  • http://Patheos Mark Edward Hessinger

    This one’s for you, Bro! Love, Mark

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  • Jerrine Regan

    What a wonderful tribute to your mother. So much love and honor in your writing. Any mother would be so blessed by reading this. Tears in my eyes as I write this.
    Blessings to you and your family.

  • Shirley Woolsey

    I met and talked with your mother only once, in 1975 in St. Louis when she was one of the speakers at a Congress on the Family. In those few minutes of conversation she began talking about caring for an older person in the home and making that time special, even to details of bathing them in bed! When she arrived on stage, she was too short to reach the microphones at the podium, so they improvised with boxes which somehow she balanced herself on as she spoke. Her clothing was quite elegant. She spoke and wrote with a similar flair.

    I bought every book she wrote, although I’m not sure I have all of them now, because they’ve been lent to others so many times.

    My husband and I moved to Santiago, Chile, in the late 1970s for mission work and “L’Abri” was the first book I read aloud to the family. Our five children grew up in South America; we were there for almost 30 years. The experience stretched us, changed us, caused us to be closer, and almost killed me when lungs stopped working in 1985. I slowly returned to health after 3 months in ICU … and we picked up the pieces. More grace. More love. Acknowledging failings. Forgiving. Going on. But not the same. I read and re-read your mother’s book on affliction. I would skim through the index of chapter titles in her books about what a family is, and how to work in hidden art from day to day. Our five, with 15 grandchildren now, still enjoy treasure hunts … because of my imitating your mother. I never tired of piano practice, flute practice, guitar practice … and loved the music that resulted. When two of them studied art and worked with pencil, then water colors, I was delighted. We managed Conciertos al Mediodia downtown in the Municipal Theatre. Cheaper. Shorter. Possible. When life threatened to overwhelm us, we read aloud from books that lifted our spirits, sometimes Dickens, sometimes the Narnia books, Elizabeth George Speares, To Kill a Mockingbird, etc. etc. A fireplace was our only heat during those first difficult years and I became an expert at building and maintaining a fire. We used candles and trays when someone was sick … common sense stuff, perhaps, but your mother had a way of inspiring and bringing out the best in many of us who struggled with a large family.

    We were with friends in a Chilean restaurant when someone mentioned your father’s death. I remember exactly where I was and the tears that started streaming down my face as though I had lost a family member. Your parents, your family, had been that important to me.

    Such an avalanche of emotions! Thank you, Frank, for your tribute to your mother which has allowed some of the rest of us to share our own.
    Shirley Woolsey

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