My Favorite Worshipper


It’s the second week of October in 2007. Tulsa, Oklahoma has just barely entered its fall season, but winter has overtaken my family months ago. My mom, who has been battling leukemia for nine years, is taken by ambulance to the hospital for the last time. There have been good days, bad days and days the word “terrible” can not even begin to touch.

And here is where the truth lives…every October. Before this last hospital “visit,” I have struggled to see my mom, to be there with her in her sickest of days, to spend every last moment with her. I want to run, I want to pretend this has already happened, I want to forget that I feel so alone.

But something is happening when I call the ambulance on this Monday morning. I stop running. I stop thinking about myself. I know these are the last days I will have. I know that I will have to make the most of these hours, these minutes, these seconds. When did time start moving so quickly? I can’t pull myself away from her room, from her bed. Prayers for healing continue to go up and all I can think is, “I need you here, but not as much as you need to be whole.”

You may ask what this post has to do with worship, so I’ll tell you:

My mother is a worshipper.

This night, the first of her last five nights on this earth, I do what I do best: I make her a playlist on my mp3 player. Somewhere I have the list of downloaded songs written down. But it’s not the songs that matter. What matters is that my mom wanted her last days to be filled with music that lifted her heart, her spirit to the One she was going to meet.

The longer my mom is gone, the more I want people to know her. She loved music so much that she played the accordion. That’s right. The accordion. The only people who play the accordion are the people who can hear music where no one else can. I now have her accordion, but I can’t play it…yet.

I have countless memories of singing in church, my young heart bursting with love for Jesus, while my mom played the piano or organ, lead the choir, smiling as her own heart was bursting. As I stood beside her in church, she belted out the alto harmony to whatever song was being sung, or she sang in her quiet falsetto, unashamed. I listened with comfort and belonging as she clapped to the beat, danced a dance, and shouted her praises to the King she would see in a few years. It is only now that I see this music inside me, and my love for creating it is a direct result of what was happening beside me.

My mom is a worshipper. Avonna Lee Terpening is a worshipper. And, as far as I know, she never wasted one chance to rehearse for what eternity would hold for her on October 13, 2007.

As my sister and I planned my mom’s memorial service, I knew the most important part would be the music. There were five songs and hymns played that day, from different eras and different styles. I could almost hear her voice harmonizing with all of them.

My mom is a constant reminder to not let this moment pass by. I don’t want this moment to pass us by. Whether with words, a song, action, a hug or a smile, a heart turned upward, let’s take this moment to rehearse for eternity.

We are worshippers.

12 thoughts on “My Favorite Worshipper

  1. Thanks for writing this Aimee. Your mom was my 1st friend that I made at Rivergate(OBF). I thought about your today at our school book fair they had pencils in the shape of drum stick….I thought wow I wish Aimee was still at Rivergate..I would buy those for her:)

  2. I loved listening to your mom play the acordian. She also played the organ at our wedding. When we were in church choir together, we sang alto together. Your mom was a very talented and special lady.

  3. A beautiful tribute to your lovely Mother. Your Mom had a way of opening her heart to you that made you feel like you were her best friend:) I really loved your Mom, and wish I could have sung with her, well, I guess I’ll just have to do that in Heaven!! I will never forget her, or you, and love keeping up with your adventures on FB!

  4. I always knew you had a gift with words. Thank you for sharing this beautiful tribute to your mother, and for reminding me how important it is to show my daughter what worship looks like!

  5. Aimee I shared a comment and shared your story on my timeline- you can go there to read,…..forgot to put on there we both shared the love of the accordion,,,,I have mine here still, B
    sure to tell you Dad and Sis hello – you both are outstanding young women just like your Mom,Keep me posted on your music. Hugs from Belvidere, Il.

  6. ♡ great way to see it… I remembet your mom being “sick” physically but her spirit being so healthy… we were at a pastor’s gathering and when worship started she danced in front with us. I was shocked with how sick she was supposed to be… Eager to hear you play accordian now! Thanks for sharing!

  7. Ryan read your blog and immediately called me. Aimee, what a wonderful tribute to your mom. She was a special lady! It was a blessing to have known her. Thank you for the opportunity to see her smile once again.

  8. Amiee, I love reading this about your beautiful mom. She was all that and more. That smile and listening ear were her! We went through OBC together, she stood up at my wedding, and we had our first babies close together. She was always there with a smile and a hug. I do miss her still and agree, she is worshiping in heaven, leading the angels, hugging your Grampa.

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  10. I started a comment and it disappeared.
    Once again thanks for sharing your memory
    Of your one of a kind Mom. I just can’t believe THE time has flown by. My pic is still on my secretary of our last outing to the tea toom. We had such a great time. My grandsons
    Are so into their gramm playing our accordion here. You must pick up that accordion soon.
    You know the keyboard. ..that’s half the battle.
    The chords chart for left hand you can get online for sure. Do it soon while you are young and you’ll have a forever memory of your Mom
    Your sister and you have done her proud.
    Sending love to you…

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