Saturday, May 10, 2014

Happy Mother's Day!

It is my contention that the mothers I’ve been blessed to be loved by are the best that have ever been assembled for any little boy. All my life I have been surrounded by a unique cadre of women that have poured their lives into me and each have deeply influenced the character and nature found in the man I have become. My mom, Linda Carol Bowling Adkins is, to this day, the most kind, supportive and tender mother I have ever known. When I'm sick I still think of her making me a "nest" and sitting on the side of the couch while she would rub my head and tuck in the covers around me. She'd make me tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich (my sick meal) and was the general who would subdue my illness at the wave of her hand.

Her mother, Orpha Cordella Smith Bowling (who has been with Jesus for quite some time and is greatly missed) was a strong, hard-working and funny woman who took great pride in gathering her family together and cooking big meals. She was more like a pioneering frontier woman who ran her home well and delivered her first child while her husband was in North Africa fighting a war. I can testify that my mom's tender side was balanced by the example of the firm hand she learned from her mother. I can embarrassingly say that I (inappropriately and disrespectfully) got in my mom's face once... ONCE. When I got up off the floor I made the decision I would never get in her face again. ;) She has been our caretaker, our nurse, our cheerleader, our rudder, our disciplinarian, our teacher and our adviser. I am a blessed man to have had her nurture and shape me.

My dad’s mom, Patsy Ruth Stidham Adkins (who is presently suffering from Alzheimer’s) was the picture of a humble, loving, Christ-like and submissive wife. Her home was spotless as she cared for her three boys and her Evangelist husband (who traveled extensively and was outside of the home far more than anyone would have wanted). She was a servant. If you looked up “graciousness” in the dictionary you would find her picture. As a young girl she was even the conduit that led her mother, Mary Virginia Summerville Stidham (my great-grandmother) to the Lord when, as a little girl, she would get up, dress and go to church even without her family… until the day that Great-Gran decided to follow her little girl to church. The rest, as they say, is history. I believe that my call to ministry is due in part to these godly women who prayed fervently for every family member, friend, neighbor, acquaintance and complete stranger they heard needed prayer. I can close my eyes and picture walking into my Great-Gran’s house. I hear WEMM on the radio (the one that sat on top of her refrigerator). I see her over in the corner of her kitchen cleaning up after her tea and can hear that she is talking to Jesus about her family. I’d come in quietly just to hear who she was praying for. I miss her terribly as well as her daughter, Patsy (my Mamaw Adkins). I am heartbroken that this disease has taken her from us. Her encouragement to live the way Jesus would want me to live still rings in my ears.

And then there is my sweet Michelle Lynette Slater Adkins. Anyone who knows me at this point in my life can testify that I would not be who I am were it not for the mother of my children. If the women above shaped the first 23 years of my life and set the foundation for who I would be, this one woman has broadened the last 18 years of my life and helped to grow me in ways that I would have never imagined. I must also recognize my dear mother-in-law, Janet Louise Burgess Slater, who helped to shape my Michelle into the woman that would help to shape me. I am eternally grateful for her influence, care and love for my sweet bride. Michelle swooped into my life and changed me. I learned about travel, compassion, giving, selflessness, priorities, forgiveness, friendship, love and so many other things that just sound so cliché. This is the woman who told me that she believed in me and believed that I could indeed finish that little two-year degree that I had been struggling to finish. She told me that not only did she think I could do that, but that I could go on to do more (remember this girl had a master’s degree before I even had a degree). She encouraged me, supported me, believed in me and has pushed me to be the best I can be. Now, after 4 degrees and working on a 5th, this woman is still there caring for and encouraging me all the while blessing my home beyond what I deserve and is helping to shape our two little boys into the men they will become just like those women did for me so many years earlier. Thanks to her I am a blessed man indeed. Who deserves such a life?

These unique women have shaped me into the man I am. Whatever good that may be in me can for the most part be attributed to them. Whatever mistakes I've made has come about due to my disregarding their instruction or meandering away from their guidance. To these women and to all the other moms that are sacrificially giving of their lives for the benefit of their children, I say to you, “Happy Mother’s Day!” Your children will be blessed if you can be half the mom these moms have been to me.