Saturday, May 07, 2011

Mother's Day Reflection

On July 15th, 1920, on the wrong side of the tracks down on Roff Avenue near "Mr Willingham's Textile Mill", a little girl was born to Henry and Bertie Bowden. Her parents were millworkers who had moved from the farm to the city in search of a better life. Each had lost a spouse to death before they met each other, and the family was a blend of Fosters and Bowdens.

The little girl grew to adulthood in that shotgun house, becoming the first of her family to get a high school diploma. During those years, she saw a sister die in a fire, a brother killed when his car stalled on the railroad tracks that ran parallel to the road. When she was 12, her father was hit by a car and died the next day. Hurt came often to Roff Avenue. The family grew tight - they had to. Somehow the widow "Bertie" raised all their kids and another couple of girls besides. Lodie was the big sister now, and she went to school and worked in the mill too. Whatever it took to help, she did.

She met a young man who lived in the same mill village, and just as World War Two began, they married. He was sent away, and in a year or so, she enlisted herself. They saw each other once during the War, in Manila.

After the war, they had both changed. Everything had.

They divorced, and then love found them again, and they remarried.

One day they got the news she was pregnant with twins. Nine months later they got the news the babies wouldn't survive. Yet when the twins were born, (my older brothers Michael and Mitchell) due to complications from my Mother carrying them too long, they both died within a week of their birth.

Devastated doesn't begin to describe what my parents experienced.

My mother is in heaven now, but while she lived she very seldom ever talked about it. Oh, she might mention "the twins", but briefly, and quickly move on. It was a deep, lasting hurt that never really went away.

So many people never recover from such a wound. Marriages, even whole lives, just wither and die.

But not when you find the will to start over.

My Mother told me she found that will in Jesus Christ. The picture at the beginning of this post shows the back inside cover of a Bible she carried during her service as a WAC during WW2. In it, she identified with Jesus as Lord and Savior. I never knew there was a time when she didn't follow Jesus.

One day we were talking, and I brought up the loss of my brothers. She reached over and opened up her Bible and read me this.

10 Don't be afraid, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will uphold you with my victorious right hand. Isaiah 41:10 (NLT)

She told me she took God at His Word and started over.

I cannot imagine how much courage it took for her to do that. But whatever amount it took, her God supplied it.But a couple who had seen so much pain and held so much heartache, just wouldn't give up hope. One year later, I was born - the young woman was my Mother - Lodie Marie Bowden Wilson.

No other person had more influence on who I became than she did. Not one day in the years we shared on this earth did I not wake up knowing that my Mother loved me deeply.

When you are the recipient of love, like a Mother's love, most of the time you are blind to it. Days come and go, sacrifices are made for you. Some you might realize but poorly comprehend. Others you miss completely. When your children come along, understanding does too, and then when the giver passes away, the gifts are made visible in the loss of the one who gave them.

I cannot give her anything now. All I can do is give to others as I have been given to. When I was reading Philippians the other day, I came across this. Those of you who read it, do as I have done today and think about your life, and what someone years after you are gone will write about it in review. Will it be God-honoring? Will it be praiseworthy? What will be your legacy? Will you have pointed your family to Jesus? Can you write as Paul does here?

Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:9 NIV

Is your life worthy of being emulated? Are you living the life you'd want everyone to? If not, make the courageous choice and change direction. Follow Jesus.

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