Rambling Ever On Pays Tribute: Happy Birthday to Judy Lytle!

Judy Lytle (Hovis) was born on February 21st, 1948, in Missouri. She is the eldest child of Lindell and Lillian Hovis. She has one sister (Brenda) and two brothers (Ken and Roger). She has been married to Steve Lytle for over 50 years and together they have three children, all boys, who have grown into wonderful men1 with families of their own. Judy has been a mother-in-law to four wonderful women, three living and one enjoying eternity in the presence of her Savior. She is “Nanny” to eleven grandchildren, ten living and one experiencing perfect health in heaven.

Judy Lytle is loved. She is a daughter of the King of kings and Lord of lords, and she has served Him faithfully throughout her life. She has filled various roles throughout her life, all with excellence. Wife, mother, grandmother, missionary, daughter, sibling, friend, student, employee, teacher, prayer warrior, student of the Word. Today is her 75th birthday and we are going to celebrate her life, her service to Jesus, and the great love she has inspired in so many.

Allen Pointer – Pastor

Growing up around strong Missouri women, I am used to ladies who never give up and rarely give in. Homes, families, and churches have significantly benefited from the strength of character of these women. Judy Lytle has done this in English and Spanish, in the United States and Panama. 

I appreciate Judy’s strength of character and spirit in her life and ministries. I say ministries because there are very few things that happen at Cofer’s that Judy is not involved in, organizing, or making sure that ministry happens. A word that I have never used in a sentence describes her: indefatigable. It means persisting tirelessly.

I have watched Judy take on the challenges of ministry in many areas at our church. I know that she did these same things and more in her career as a missionary. I have admired her willingness to serve and unwillingness to accept the status quo. If there is a need, I know that Judy is going to see how she can meet it and rally the troops to help get it done.

It might be easy to chalk up all of this to her indefatigable spirit and personality. But what drives Judy is something more. She is a servant of Jesus Christ. She does not see this as something she does because somebody must do it. She does all of this because this is her calling to obey her Lord and Savior. At her heart, she serves, she works, and she leads for the sake of her Master. 

Cofer’s Chapel greatly benefits from her life and ministry. We are just the latest chapter of a story spanning over seven decades. I am honored to be part of the pastoral team with her and Steve. 

David Lytle – Son

Compassion is not always what we think. Often when we think of compassion we think of sentimentality, either in word or deed. My mother is not a sentimental woman, rather she is a person of action. She’s the perfect complement to my more emotional and cerebral father. Still, when I reflect on her life, I see a trail of actions marked by compassion for others.

As a missionary, she dedicated her life to serving others by taking on many roles. I remember learning the word “soup kitchen” from her when I was young as she described her ministry in the underdeveloped areas on the outskirts of Panama City.

Now that my parents are retired from a long career overseas, they serve their local church, especially in its outreach to Hispanic immigrants. I’ve seen them get up in the middle of the night to rush to the hospital for the sake of their Spanish-speaking friends.

Lamentations 3:22 describes God as a being whose compassions never fail. Now, I’m sure that my mom has run out of compassion at times. (I’ve certainly seen her lose her patience.) Still, her life-long record of compassion is certainly a mark of a godly life. In this way, she reflects her maker and redeemer. May we all do the same.

Amy Lytle – Daughter-in-Law

I can’t relate to mother-in-law jokes. I can laugh at them, but they in no way represent my experience. Judy Lytle is a treasure. But she is not sweet.

While it may seem she lacks sentimentality, she has a deep authentic care for others. If you want to converse with someone who gives you saccharine to satisfy a need for sweetness, Judy is not the person for you. However, what she lacks in false flattery, she more than makes up in sound wisdom. 

In short, Judy is salty in the best way. 

Judy is full of flavor. When we get together as a family, there is laughter and loudness and fun. I can make fun of her, and she can take it and respond in kind. I don’t have to worry about saying the wrong thing and causing offense. 

Judy is a worker.  We expect salt to do what it was made to do. Similarly, if Judy isn’t busy doing something, she is not herself. She ministers in several areas. From the aged to the nursery, she is working for the church. In English and Spanish, she is serving for the Kingdom. All while keeping her house clean and cooking meals and doing the laundry. She has a heart for ministry, and it is clear in both word and deed. 

Judy is reliable. If she makes a commitment, you can count on it. She won’t abandon her post because something sweeter has been offered. Judy is the spice you want on your team because the task will get done with excellence, and she still allows other flavors to get noticed. She does good work because there is no other way to do it, whether she gets recognition or not.

I am thankful for my salty mother-in-law who welcomed me as one of her own. She raised her son who chose me as a wife, which shows she taught him well.2  

Happy Birthday, Judes!

Sheila Sass – Friend

I first met Judy Hovis in January 1969 when she came to Free Will Baptist Bible College (now Welch College) at the beginning of the spring semester. Before coming to college, she had a career as a dental assistant. We were roommates and we just “clicked.” During her college days, Judy was a prayer captain, Bronte president, prayer band leader, played basketball, volleyball, and softball and did so very graciously in the wonderful culottes we had to wear. Judy took extra classes during summer breaks at home in Missouri so she could graduate with our class.

I thought I would take Judy under my wing and teach her the ropes of college life. After all, I was a whole semester ahead of her. Little did I know that I would learn several valuable things from her that would help guide me through my life.

Be accepting. It never mattered to Judy if you were rich or poor, smart or not so smart, if you wore the latest fashion, had a car, held a high office, had a disability, or what color you were. Judy had the gift of making friends with all people and treated them with respect. She would find some common ground and make you feel at ease and valued.

Be a juggler. I saw her juggle being a friend, sister, daughter, leader, teacher, speaker, wife, mother, worker, counselor, missionary, organizer, and the list could go on.

Be sure to do your job well. If you give Judy a task, she will get it done, on time, do a great job, and never want you to praise her for it.

Be sure if you ask Judy her opinion that you really want it.

Tom and I were fortunate enough to visit Judy and Steve in Panama in 1997 and got to see their work. It was obvious how much the people loved and respected her. Judy has always had as her goal to serve God to the best of her ability.

I hope you have had the opportunity to hear Judy speak because it is one of her gifts. Her theme woven through every time I’ve heard her speak is always do the best you can and do it for God’s glory.

Oh yes! There is one thing I forgot to mention. Judy is TWO years older than me. So, I guess I have to respect my elder. Seriously, it is my honor to call her my best friend and confidant for over 50 years now. Love you lots, Judy and thank you for giving so much of yourself to all of us.

Jackie Lytle – Daughter-in-Law

I’ve been thinking a lot about order lately. The way the Lord has ordered things: nature, science, family, seasons, life. We often connect the gifts people have with God’s image reflected in them. Teachers are like Jesus. Artists? Like their Creator. Doctors reflect the healing nature of a loving God. Even carpenters get a shout out.

Judy Lytle is many, many things. But have her in your home for 24 hours and it won’t take but the first two of those hours for you to observe how she brings order to things. I’m beginning to see how this trait, often seen in mothers, reflects our God. The first aspect of his character shown in Genesis is God taking chaos and bringing order and beauty out of it. 

Judy brings order and beauty to her surroundings, despite where she is. The home of her grieving widowed son and his young children; church kitchens serving many hungry eaters (typically in Panamá or Nashville, but many other places too); the toys of her baby grandson neatly packed away the morning he arrived in heaven; the garages of neighbors that may harbor snakes at all hours of night; even violent and tragic crime scenes! Judy is there. At a moment’s notice, she’s there. In the dead of night, she’s there. She walks into chaos and leaves in her wake order, peace, clarity.

It’s something I, her fourth daughter-in-law, hope to grow in. And I can look to her example, of which I am grateful.

PS she raised three men to love God and serve Him while also humbly serving their wives and children. She has many legacies, but Michael, Philip, and David are highest on that list. I directly benefit from that — Well done and thank you, Judy!!

Michael and Diane Lytle – Son and Daughter-in-Law

Writing about someone as special as Judy Lytle is a lot for one person to handle alone so Diane and I decided to work on this together. It is also difficult to put into words what she means to us as a mother (and mother-in-law) so we had the brilliant idea of putting our thoughts in the form of an acrostic. We are using the entire alphabet for this one! Each word is a different characteristic of the incomparable Judy Lytle. We hope you enjoy reading this as much as we enjoyed writing it.

A. Assertive. Judy Lytle is not afraid to step into a situation, take charge, and get things done.
B. Bilingual. Many people struggle to communicate effectively in one language. Judy has mastered two.
C. Clown. Calling someone a clown is generally considered an insult. We certainly don’t mean it that way! Judy was a real-life clown. She had the face makeup, the wig, the outfit, and everything. She traveled all over Panama entertaining kids and sharing the gospel with them.
D. Dedicated. I have watched her over the years give her all in everything she does.
E. Energetic. She rarely takes a break. She is always on the go, even on vacation. The only thing that seems to zap her energy is having surgery or getting sick and even then, she doesn’t stay down long.
F. Faithful. Not only to Jesus Christ, but also to her family and friends.
G. Giving. Of her time, of her money, and of her life. To serving others and ultimately the cause of Christ.
H. Hard working. Mom is probably the hardest working person I know. At 75 she works harder than most people half her age.

I. Influencer. Judy was an influencer long before it was a hip thing in the social media world.
J. Jack of all trades. We have often told Mom she should write a book about all the jobs she’s had over the years. It would NOT be a short book! We would list them all here, but we are on a strict word count.
K. Known. By literally thousands of people all over the world, not to mention all her Facebooks friends!
L. Lifetime Learner. We get double points for this one! Mom has always been willing and very capable of learning new skills and she has excelled at whatever she put her mind to.
M. Mother/mother-in-law. Mother of three ordinary boys who married extraordinary girls.
N. Nanny. To 11 wonderful grandchildren who love her very much.

O. Organized. You don’t handle all the finances and day to day running of the dormitories for a seminary (while on a shoestring budget) without strong organizational skills.
P. Piano Player. One of the many talents Judy was called on to employ during the early days of the Betania church in Panama.
Q. Quick wit. This particular characteristic was inherited by her three handsome and talented sons.
R. Resourceful. I remember her cooking homemade pizzas in a little village in Panama in a kitchen with a dirt floor and a wood burning oven. I also saw her use a homemade system to collect rainwater so when there was a mandatory water shut down, she would have water to clean and cook with.
S. Social. She loves people. She is a pro at hospitality and can also meet a stranger and know their life story in a matter of a few minutes.
T. Thoughtful. Judy selects and gives cards for every occasion that are meaningful and true for each recipient.

U. Unique. If you google the word unique the definition is “being the only one of its kind; unlike anything else.” We think this describes Judy perfectly.
V. Volunteer. When I call or text with my parents they are usually heading out or returning from helping someone else. Whether it is giving an elderly person a ride to a doctor’s appointment or serving at a local elementary school as a part of the Good News Club ministry. Volunteering to little acclaim or fanfare has been the heartbeat of their lives.
W. Welcoming. Growing up our home was always open, and visitors were always welcome. Even now we rarely have a holiday family get together where my mom doesn’t bring a guest.
X. Xenophile. A Xenophile is defined as someone who has a love or appreciation for foreign people, manners, customs, and culture. We think this fits Judy well, and to be honest there aren’t that many words that start with the letter ‘X”.
Y. Young at Heart. She may be turning 75, but she doesn’t look (or act) a day over 67!
Z. Zealous. Judy had a desire to serve Christ with her life. Her zeal has not wavered for over 50 years of service across several countries and a wide range of ministries.

There are so many other words that could be used to describe Judy. I am so thankful that I met her and was chosen to be a part of her family. She welcomed me with open arms, but not before asking me what my intentions were with her son. She is my friend, my mentor, and my sister in Christ, and I love her so much.

Happy Birthday Judy!

  1. One of her sons wrote this introduction.
  2.  This is most definitely a Judy Lytle style of joke.
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3 thoughts on “Rambling Ever On Pays Tribute: Happy Birthday to Judy Lytle!

  • February 21, 2023 at 11:26 am

    Thanks so much for working on this! I think you all know me pretty well.

  • February 21, 2023 at 11:33 am

    Happy Birthday to Judy Lytle! A godly woman I have admired my whole life and now have the privilege to call her friend.

  • February 21, 2023 at 6:32 pm

    Thank you all for your affirmations of Judy, Mom, Nanny, and friend. She is a treasure to many.


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