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John shares his mom’s license plate message as a reminder that shows we must have hope and that the best is yet to come and plans to prosper.

In the midst of managing the complexities of life, what we often need most is a reminder that there is reason for hope.

Recently, I needed that reminder and received it from someone who may have needed it even more than me. Let me explain.

As a result of repeated falls, several weeks ago my amazingly tenacious Dad required a total shoulder replacement. At any age, it’s a difficult surgery and recovery to endure. But at 75, and after three decades with Parkinson’s disease, recovering has proven especially difficult.

After a few days in the hospital we brought my Dad home. Even with two people assisting with his transfers, feedings and supporting him through the day, the intensity of care proved more than we could imagine. Not only was he not improving, he was simply no longer safe at home.

So we made the difficult decision to move Dad out of his home and recover at a skilled nursing facility. He would receive daily in-person therapy and a trained caregiver to support him throughout the day. Although it was the right thing to do, it was incredibly hard to share with Dad that he had to leave his home for at least a month.

In the midst of layered personal struggle, she was given hope and faith by this Bible verse which she chose as her license plate so she’d have a daily reminder.

As we prepared Dad to leave, a gentleman from a pest control company we’d hired came downstairs and shared with Mom that there was a family of raccoons living in her attic. He went on to share that these raccoons, incidentally, were generous enough to share their adopted home with a family of squirrels.

Soon after, one of the grandchildren came running up from the basement and asked why there was a pool down there. [Turns out the sewer line had backed up and needed replacing.]

Mom, coping with her own sorrow and sleepless nights, lovingly navigated my Dad’s wheelchair
between the plumbers and the pest control experts. She guided him from their beloved home and carefully got him into their car.

Following behind her car as she pulled away from the house, I noticed Mom’s license plate. I’ve seen it for years, but rarely considered the significance of it. It is, after all, easy to take something for granted when we become too familiar with it.

If you are in the midst of struggle, remember this truth from my mom’s license plate.

And yet whether Mom had pulled up to my office to say hello, joined for a family dinner at our house, parked near a ball field to cheer for a grandchild, there were always three things present:

1.     Mom always had my Dad riding next to her in the car. They were a team.
2.     Mom always had a beautiful smile on her face. Life was good.
3.     Mom always had the same personalized license plate on her car. And it read:

“JER 29”

It’s a reference to Jeremiah 29; Mom’s favorite verses are 11-13:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

Through seven decades of living with life’s complexities, Mom has held fast to that promise. Through more than five decades of marriage, she has believed in it. Through childhood tragedies, house fires (yes, two house fires!), financial struggles, a debilitating disease impacting her husband and personal struggles she never complains about, she remains comforted by that promise.

Mom knows her bible well enough to realize this isn’t some prosperity teaching suggesting life is easy for those who are faithful. She knows that her faith doesn’t protect her from suffering. Instead, it reminds her that God is with her in it and has even better things planned for her tomorrow.

Plans to prosper; and not to harm.
Plans to give hope; and a future.

With a backed-up sewer line and a growing zoo in her attic, that’s a nice reminder.

If you have challenges, this reminder will help you prosper and see the good to come.

With the incredible sadness that comes with loving a husband who is slowly succumbing to late-stage Parkinson’s disease, that’s critical to know.

And as we look away from my parents, and closer to our own reflection in the mirror, it’s vitally important for us to understand. Because while avoiding a life without problems is simply impossible, a convicted belief that there is a purpose in the struggle and hope for an even brighter future is absolutely liberating.

In fact, it’s powerful enough you might consider believing that promise for yourself. In doing so, you’d be free as you drive through life and arrive at each event with a beautiful smile on your face, too.

18 replies on “Mom’s License Plate Reminder”

John, thanks for this post. Beautiful. I have great respect for your father and mother. I thank you for honoring them. You’ll never regret a single minute that you spend with them. I will be praying for your Dad. Disease and death are formidable enemies, but we have victory in Jesus. He is risen! The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23) In the midst of sorrow and struggles, we have hope.

By the way, if a family of raccoons and a family of squirrels can get along, I suppose the rest of us can, too!

All my best to you and your family, John!


What an incredible story. It is tough to have parents that are aging. Life’s troubles come at unexpected times. Never according to our schedule. It is how we persevere is how we become Victors! You parents are amazing and your Mom is the light in our world that we all desperately seek.

Blessing to you all and thank you for sharing your stories. They do inspire many of us.

John, I want to thank you for inspiring me through my recovery from a fall on the 4th of July. I kept reminding myself that if you could make it through your “accident” I was in less of a predicament from my “accident.” My wife found me at the bottom of the ladder, having fallen 12’ and unresponsive. Several hours later I arrived at the regional hospital. I’m home recovering from several broken ribs and a separated AC from my shoulder. As your mom’s message sinks in, my wife prayers were answered on the 4th as she asked God not to let me die. There must be a plan for me to follow.

Will done Mrs. O’Leary! KUDOS to Mr. O’Leary, shoulder surgery is a tough one to go through.

Thank you for sharing John. You and your family are in my Prayers.

Amazing share here John – thanks for putting this out there. I had to stop while reading it to clear the tears from my eyes! 😜😢❤️ Amazing perspective & gratitude mixed together. I love what you bring to the world John – please keep it up as you inspire so many people to try everyday to live their lives On Fire and In Awe! 😊👏👍🏻❤️

This is so needed by everyone to ensure that they can move forward with hard things. Faith and attitude are such gifts. You go, Mom!

Thank you for sharing this wonderful message this morning. Your mother’s example is another wonderful reminder that “true love equals sacrifice”.

Love, love, love your folks! They are at the top of our prayer list. That verse perfectly describes God’s idea of what our relationship with Him can be. Thank you for the reminder.

John, your mom sounds like such a faithful woman and prayer warrior. Thanks for the reminder that God is with us in all of our struggles.

Just beautiful. Inspiring. I know the challenges of caring for a parent both in and out of skilled nursing and it is exhausting spiritually emotionally and physically. Leaning into the promises of God and each other is the best and honestly only real solution. My 96 year old mom died may 1 here at home with the care of an aide, me and the Lord. He WILL see you through.

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