Friday, August 22, 2014

Called To Serve

We find the need for deacons (servants) in the church arose in the early days of the church in Jerusalem in the 1st Century. As you can see, from the scripture passage below from the book of Acts, chapter 6, the seven men selected, were chosen for the purpose of serving to make sure the material  needs of all of the widows in the church were met.

Even though the Greek word "diakonos" (attendant or servant) is not used here it is important to note that these men were chosen to be servants of the church, and not the "governing board" of the church, nor are they anywhere referred to as pastors, bishops, overseers, or elders. The job description is simple and straightforward.

We see that the Apostles gave instructions as to the qualifications of the men to be chosen. They were quite simple as well - they were to select men with:
* A good reputation
* A Spirit filled life
* Wisdom
* (and, by implication) A heart and willingness to serve

Seven men were chosen and "ordained" to do the work.

The results were that a divisive issue in the church was settled, the pastors (Apostles) were freed up spend more time in prayer and the ministry of the Word, and most importantly, the "word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith".

Wow!


Here is how Luke reported it in the Scriptures:

(1) Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. (2) And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. (3) Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. (4) But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” (5) And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. (6) These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them. And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.
Acts 6:1b-7(ESV)


Now, in Paul's first letter to Timothy (chapter 3) he points out the qualifications for Bishops and for Deacons. The are listed here and rather easily understood.

(8) Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain. (9) They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. (10) And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless. (11) Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things. (12) Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well. (13) For those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.
1 Timothy 3:8b-13(ESV)

Since the office of Deacon itself is a servant position we should be reminded that servants are not chosen to be exalted or honored. Their duty is to humbly do those lowly jobs that need to be done, but not to receive glory, power or position. However, Notice that verse 13 does tell of the reward for faithfully fulfilling the office.
"For those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus."

I thank God for humble men who are willing to serve God through the local church when their church calls, and for men who realize they are called to "wait tables" not to "manage the restaurant".

Monday, August 18, 2014

Tension Breaker. Had To Be Done.

My brothers and I were in Dad's house the day after his funeral. The place was just as he had left it when I had picked him up that morning, just five weeks earlier to take him to see his doctor over some breathing problems he had been having.  It would be the last time he would ever be in his home of 62 years. It was an eerie feeling, looking over all of Dad's belongings. So many things that he had accumulated - each of them valuable to him (if no one else).

In a corner of the front bedroom I came across this model of Joan C. Edwards Stadium, the home of Dad's beloved Marshall University Thundering Herd.  Dad was a season ticket holder there for many years and he loved the game day experience.

The memories came back in a torrent when I remembered the first time I had ever seen the little replica of "The Joan".

It was early December, 2004 and I was a patient at Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital in Ashland, KY.  Four days earlier I had gone through extensive abdominal surgery.  A colonoscopy two weeks earlier had revealed a large mass in my right ascending colon. Dr, Warrier, who had done the test told us that it was likely that the mass was malignant, and that we should see a surgeon immediately.  Within a week, Dr. Staten had done my surgery.  He told me that he had removed about three feet of my colon.  He told me that he had seen some suspicious spots on my liver, had biopsied them, and also removed several lymph nodes for biopsies as well.  Plus, he said, while in there he removed my appendix.

Now, four days later I was beginning to feel much better as I recovered from the surgery.  I had been up walking that day, and I was hoping to go home in a couple of days. Even though we knew we were probably going to be dealing with cancer, we were still waiting for the results of the pathology reports and were optimistic that the malignancy was still contained in the colon.

I had several visitors that day.  Linda was there with me (she had rarely left my side since the operation).  My son, Benji's in laws, Lance and Linda Clanton had come by to see me, and Mom and Dad had driven down from Huntington to see me for the first time since the surgery.

Dad had brought with him his brand new prized possession - the scale model of Marshall Stadium that had come as a surprise gift from Mom's sister, Dori, in Houston.  She knew how much he loved the Herd and had ordered the keepsake for him as a surprise gift.  Dad proudly pointed out to the Clantons where his seats were located, and we talked about the good times we had experienced in that place.

While they were all there, my family doctor, John Darnell, came in to see me.  On this occasion, however, he had two nurses with him. Normally he made his rounds alone.  We exchanged pleasantries and introductions of the visitors and he asked how I was feeling. We talked about the fact that I would probably be discharged in a couple of days.

"Any questions?" he asked.

"Yes" I said.  "When will we find out the results of the pathology tests?  Will Dr. Staten give me the report, or will you, or what?"

Dr Darnell looked around the room uncomfortably. "I can give you the results now if you like..." he said quietly.  Again he gave an uncomfortable look around the room at the visitors who were there.

"These folks are all family" I replied. "They can hear whatever I hear".

"Well" he said, after clearing his throat and looking at the chart he carried in his hand.  "The mass in your colon was malignant. Also the biopsies of your liver and lymph nodes showed that the cancer has spread to other areas of your body.  You have a very aggressive form of cancer. You are in Stage 4, and it is incurable."

I heard a short gasp escape Linda's lips.  Everyone else was totally silent.

I remember thinking, so this is what if feels like when they tell you "you're going to die". Here I was,  only 54 years old, and I had just come face to face with my mortality, and I felt nothing. Just numb.

The silence was deafening.

It seemed like forever. No one said a word. The Doctor sat quietly waiting for me to ask the obvious question (how long do I have?) but the words just didn't come.

More silence.

Then from the other side of my bed I heard my Dad's voice. "Hey Doc!  Look what my sister in law sent me from Texas!" he said holding up the stadium model.

Dr. Darnell's reaction was priceless. His head snapped toward Dad, and with a puzzled look on his face, said weakly, "Yeah. That's nice.".

I've thought a thousand times what he and those nurses must have thought.  "I've just told this guy he's going to die, and his Dad wants to show me a stadium replica!"  They probably thought he was crazy, but anyone who knows my Dad, knows exactly what he was doing.

Tension breaker.Had to be done!

It worked.  I snapped back to reality and asked the Doctor what comes next.  He said we need to get you with an Oncologist.  Although the diagnosis was "incurable", hopefully my life could be prolonged for a few months with chemotherapy treatments. I quickly asked if I could see Dr. Kirti Jain, and Darnell told me he would get that arranged, and he quickly exited the room.

It was a typical Caudle Adkins moment.

Although the situation was serious, the silence was broken, the mood was lightened.

It wasn't that Dad didn't didn't grasp the gravity of the situation. Nor did he think that little stadium replica was that important.  I was his oldest son.  His namesake.  His colleague in ministry. He understood completely, and I'm sure his heart was broken to hear what we had just heard.

However, Dad just had the gifts of common sense, discernment, and the ability to defuse any tense situation with his down home sense of humor.

That stadium replica sits in my office at the church today.

I cherish the memory of my Dad's actions on the day I heard the worst news of my life.

I miss him so much, and I thank God every day that I was blessed to be raised by Caudle and Patsy Adkins. I'm thankful for the priceless memories I have of him.

I love you Dad, and I'll see you soon!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Jack Hollan...One Of A Kind!

Today I have the opportunity and privilege to deliver the eulogy at Second Baptist Church of Ashland, KY for the funeral service of my long time friend and neighbor Jack Hollan. One of my great joys was leading Jack to the Lord Jesus Christ on August 31, 2012, and the blessing of helping his pastor, Ed Caudill baptize Jack.  The following post are the notes I will be using. I hope it will be a fitting tribute to a good and decent man, and a blessing to his family.

Jack Hollan was one of a kind.  He was an original.  He was a fixture in the community, and he will be missed. He was the neighbor who was always dependable.
·        He was the guy who was always aware of what was going on in the neighborhood and in the town in general.  (I called him the mayor of east Ashland)
·        He was the guy who always had the tool you needed, and was glad to loan it to you, or even to use it himself while helping you with your project. 
·        He’s the guy who always had a project going himself, whether it was a remodeling project in the house, or manicuring his lawn. (he had the best little lawn on 49th street.  The rest of us just had “yards”).
  • He’s the guy who had a strong opinion on just about everything, and would share it with you at the drop of a hat. (and when necessary, he would supply the hat!)
  • He’s the guy who had a distain for those who could work, but wouldn’t, but he would go out of his way to help or even employ folks who were willing to work to try to better themselves.
  • He’s the guy who always had time for the kids or the elderly people in our neighborhood. And they loved him for it.
  • He’s the guy who loved politics.  We had many political discussions over the years.  We were almost always in agreement on issues regarding our city and local government.  But I would guess that we cancelled out each other’s votes for President in every election since 1980!
  • He’s the guy who always had a story to tell about his daughters and His grandchildren.
  • He’s the guy who loved his family more than anything on Earth.

It was that family that motivated Jack.  While he worked hard to support them financially, he and Doris both poured their lives into their four girls and each of them bear the indelible imprint of their parents.  Jack shared his knowledge with the girls and encouraged them to gain all the formal education available, but above that he shared his common sense and his wisdom.  There is no doubt in my mind that he loved Doris, Linda, Debbie, Jenny, and Laura with all his heart. He supported the girls in their activities and he doted on each grandchild. 

Jack lost his mother at an early age. And although he and his siblings grew up with the love of the remaining family,  It was a loss he felt deeply for the remainder of his life.  I’m thankful that about 2 years ago came to peace over it when he trusted Christ as his Savior right there in his living room. I believe the impact of the loss he experienced as a child helped forge him into the fine “family man” that he became.

Over the past 34 years, I knew Jack to be a man of character and integrity.  His word was his bond. He couldn’t abide a thief or a liar and he could spot a phony a mile away!  He had a deep sense of fair play, and he had compassion for the down trodden. If you were a political candidate or a government official, he could be your best friend, or your worse nightmare! When I served in elected office and as a volunteer on boards in the city, I often sought out Jack’s opinion and advice and I valued it.

He boldly stood up and was willing to fight for what he thought was right and for the good of our community, such as working to keep neighborhood schools, fighting Pollution from the Coke Plant, advocating for a neighborhood crime watch, fighting with CSX for a quiet zone for the railroad, and battling the guy from Huntington who wanted to put in the adult bookstore on the corner lot.

He lived his life at a high moral code, but much like Jesus said to the Rich Young Ruler we read about in the scriptures, there was “one thing he lacked” and that was the most important thing to every human. A personal relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ (John 14:6)

I am thankful that on the last day of August Jack took care of that “one thing”.  He surrendered his will to God’s will and accepted Jesus as his Savior.  What a joy it was for me to be able to help Bro. Eddie Caudill baptize Jack right here at 2nd Baptist Church in full view of his family, friends, and neighbors.

I am thankful that I have had opportunity to know Jack Hollan for over half of my life and to call him my friend.

It is natural for us to cling to this body … But in reality it is only the worn out garment that Jack cast aside on Monday afternoon when he left this world and entered into the presence of the Lord.

I believe he is there today.  Not because of any good things he has done to deserve it, but because he had trusted Jesus to do for him what no one else could do.  Not a loving wife, or children. But through faith in Christ alone. I’m glad he left that testimony.

So don’t grieve as those who have no hope. Remember.  Christians will never see each other for the last time.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Help Needed. You May Just Be The One God Is Calling!

Jesus told his disciples not to prohibit little children from coming to Him.  In fact He said that they should welcome the presence of little children, and to share the Good News with them.  Westmoreland Baptist Church has been attempting to do just that through Children’s Ministry on our campus at the corner of Hughes and Court Streets for the past 99 years.

We have been granted a tremendous opportunity to do just that, outside the setting of our local church.  God has richly blessed this opportunity, but we are at a point now where we need help. I believe there are some readers out there who God is preparing to step in and help us carry out a tremendous ministry to children at Central City Elementary School located in the West End of Huntington, WV.

In past years many of us have lamented judicial decisions to “take the Bible out of the public schools”.  However, through His providence, (and a ruling from the Supreme Court) God has, indeed, allowed us to take the Bible and the Good News of Jesus into the public schools through after school programs.

This September we will be beginning our second full year of reaching the children of Central City Elementary by partnering with Child Evangelism Fellowship and a neighboring church (Sunshine FWB) with a Good News Club.

We began our Good News Club during the last five weeks of the 2012-2013 school year.  In that short time we were able to minister to 10 children who stayed after school for an hour on Thursday evenings. Those kids were treated to delicious snacks, a fun time of recreation, songs, a Bible memory verse each week, along with a Bible lesson, missionary story, and a Gospel presentation.  Several children made professions of faith during those few weeks. 

Last school year we were blessed to enroll 27 children in our Good News Club.  But along with the blessing of an enrollment that nearly tripled in number, came the problem of a shortage of helpers.  For the ministry to be successful and to grow in number, we MUST enlist some new workers for the coming school year.

We desperately need to have enough helpers to split the children into two age groups. The future effectiveness and success of this ministry rests solely on God providing us with enough helpers to make this work.

The requirements and qualifications for workers and helpers are simple.  The workers must be born again followers of Jesus Christ.  They must love children, and be able to pass a criminal background check, and attend a brief training session offered by Child Evangelism Fellowship.  And they must be willing to give about an hour and a half of their time on Thursday afternoons in serving the Lord through serving these children.

Would YOU be willing to help?

You do not have to be a gifted musician or Bible teacher (although we can always use more of those), you just need to be willing to help.  Beside the obvious teaching and singing folks, we need helpers who are willing to serve in any of these other ways:
  • Refreshments
  • Games and recreation
  • Passing out materials
  • Greeting parents when they pick up the children
  • Provide a loving presence for the children during the club hour
  • Help with keeping order and attention
  • Taking care of records
  • Helping prepare materials
  • Prayer support
  • And other tasks as needs arise

We need to be there by 2:45 when school dismisses, to greet the children, and stay till the parents pick them up at 4:00.

We have had a wonderful crew of workers since day one, but during the last school one has passed away and two have had health situations that have limited their availability.

Would you be willing to help us this year? I will be glad to share more information with anyone who may be interested in being part of what God is doing at Central City.

Feel free to contact me via private message through Facebook, or by email at pastoradkins@frontier.com, or by calling the church office at 304-429-1348.  If you get voice mail, just leave a message with your name and number.  We will get back to you.

I pray that God will raise up individuals who will be willing to help in some way.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Finishing Well

This photo jumped out at me from the Facebook app on my iPad this week.Three generations of the Dyar family stood smiling in this beautiful outdoor setting.  Linda's cousin, Joyce, and her husband, Monty were a young couple I married "a few years ago" in Mingo County, WV.

In this photo the family had gathered to celebrate Monty and Joyce's 40th wedding anniversary. I smiled when I remembered that ceremony on that hot Summer afternoon when I was blessed to unite that pretty young West Virginia girl and the handsome young United States Marine from Purvis, Mississippi at a little white frame church in Sprigg, WV.

Then it hit me.

Their FORTIETH anniversary?

How could that be possible?

I remember back in the 60's when my Grandmother and Grandfather celebrated their 40th in Logan Co. WV. I remember marveling at how old they were, and how long they had been husband and wife,. 40 years!
And now I was faced with the reality that it had been 40 years since I had tied the knot for Monty and Joyce.  And further more they were not the first couple I had married, there had been several before them.

Surely I couldn't be that old - could I?

The reality is, however, that indeed I am that old.  After all, Linda and I observed our 43rd anniversary last month.  Even though I honestly don't feel any older than I did 30 years ago (except for the issues with my right foot which has been surgically diminished twice in the past 3 months), I am older than I often realize. Truth of the matter is that I am only 14 months away from Medicare!  That is a shocking reality.

It's one that I am reminded of every morning by the stranger who peers back at me from the mirror. That can't possibly be me - but alas, the truth bears witness in:
  • the lines, wrinkles and creases in the face, silently speak volumes...
  • the white hairs that now dominate my once black beard bear witness...
  • the ever increasing area of bare scalp where thick curly hair once flourished tells the story...
All serve to remind me that time passes on - it sneaks up on us, and soon we realize the true brevity of our lives.The Bible is full of reminders of how quickly our years pass.
  • Job 7: 6  "My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle..."
  • Psalm 90:5-6 "... In the morning they are like grass which grows up: In the morning it flourishes and grows up; In the evening it is cut down and withers."
  • Psalm 90; 9-10  "... we spend our years as a tale that is told. The days of our lives are seventy years; And if by reason of strength they are eighty years,Yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; For it is soon cut off, and we fly away..."
  • 1 Peter 1:24  “...All flesh is as grass, And all the glory of man[a] as the flower of the grass. The grass withers,And its flower falls away..."
  • James 4:14  "... For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away."  
Now, that being said, please understand that I am NOT planning my funeral services just yet.  With the recent passing of my 87 year old father, and other aforementioned reminders, I am just stating the fact that for each of us, time is marching on and there is no turning back the clock.

When I was a boy growing up on Gallaher Street in southeast Huntington, WV back in the 50's, there were several multigenerational families in our neighborhood.  Often there was a grandfather living in the home with a family, or next door to them.  The elderly men in the family were usually known as "Old Man (so and so)".  It wasn't a term used disrespectfully, but rather, one of honor and affection.  On our street alone we had "Old Men" Black, Midkiff, Dick, Osborne, and Adkins.

After Dad's funeral service last week, it hit me that I am now the patriarch of our Adkins clan. Suddenly (it seems) I am now "Old Man Adkins".  I'm the old guy with 44 years in pastoral ministry (longest in ministry in our association).  I'm the old guy with grandchildren in High School.  I'm the old guy who has lived on my street longer than anyone else except a couple who are in their late 80's.  I'm the guy who realizes that I don't have nearly as many years left as I have seen pass.

I'm not ready to lie down and die.  After all, I am a 10 year survivor of "incurable" fourth stage colon cancer that had permeated my liver and was in several lymph nodes when discovered.  

I'm not ready to quit.  I hope to remain in active ministry at least 6 or 7 more years, if God gives me the health to do so.

So what shall I do?

According to psalmist I need to be aware of my status and follow this sage advice, "So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom." (Psalm 90:12)

My prayer is that I might finish well.

I can look back over the years that have slipped up on me unawares and see times of victory.  I can also see time of defeat.  But the saddest thing I see are missed opportunities, seasons of complacency, and lack of a sense of urgency.  That's why I want to "Redeem the time".  I can't get any of it back, but I can surely be resolved to make the most of the days, months and years that God may still have reserved for my time of service to him.

Like Paul of old, who wrote in Philippians 3:10-14, I want my resolve to be as follows:

That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.
12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.
13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
Old Man Adkins is making that commitment today.

My Dad was fond of an old country style gospel song that contained these words:

"Time has made a change in the old home place.
Time has made a change in each smiling face.
And I know my friends can plainly see,
Time has made a change in me."

My prayer, as I head down the home stretch, is that the change my friends may see in me, would not be the limp in my walk, the stoop of my shoulders, the wrinkles in my brow and the balding gray hairs of my head. I pray that the change they see in me will be the commitment to finish well.
The commitment to follow Jesus more closely and magnify him in my life.
The commitment to be about my Father's business and advance the cause of God's Kingdom until He calls me home.

Will you join me?

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Our Final Time Together As A Family

bit’-ter-sweet, adjective
  1. both bitter and sweet to the taste.
  2. both pleasant and painful or regretful

My 87 year old father lay heavily medicated in St. Mary’s Medical Center in Huntington, WV.  He had begun his descent into the “valley of the shadow of death”.  Now we knew that it would be only a matter of days until he would slip away to his eternal home.

Like the psalmist, Dad had no fear of death because he knew the Shepherd was with him. He also knew that he was going THROUGH the valley – ultimately coming out on the other side.

Dad struggled to make us understand that he was lucid, even though he was slipping in and out of consciousness throughout the afternoon.  He told us he wanted to go to Heaven.  He had read of that place and preached about it for more than 65 years, and now he knew he was nearing his crossing.

Not one to show a lot of public affection, Dad came from a close family who preferred to show love through actions, rather than words.  Now on this Sunday afternoon as his three sons (from West Virginia, Kentucky and Georgia) gathered by his bedside, he told us he loved us and that he looked forward to seeing us in Heaven.  He groggily offered hugs to all who came to visit that afternoon, and told each of them he wanted to see them again in Heaven.

“I just wish Pat was here”, he said quietly, as a tear rolled down his cheek, “but it would be too hard on her”.  This hospital stay was the longest he had ever been separated from his bride in 65 years of marriage.

Mom has been a resident of a local nursing home since just a few days before Christmas of last year.  Although, in her late stages of Alzheimer’s Disease, Mom had adapted well to her new surroundings.  She has been well fed and cared for there, but the past six months had been hard on Dad.  As his physical condition had deteriorated, he still sought to be independent.  Each day he would drive his Mercury to the nursing home and spend time with Mom, helping feed her in the dining area, and sitting with her in her room until she fell asleep.

Now as he knew his life was slipping away, and only a few days away from their 65th wedding anniversary, Dad simply wished to have his lifetime companion together with him and their three sons.

We began plans to try to make Dad’s wish come true.

We couldn’t work it out that evening. It was determined that Dad would be transferred to the nearby Emogene Dolin Jones Hospice House. There were delays in getting his release papers completed at the hospital, and the transfer didn’t take place until after 10:00 PM.  That was far too late to check Mom out of the nursing home, so we determined to try to make it happen the next day.

Dad ceased to be able to communicate verbally that Sunday night.  One of the last things he told my brother Bruce was “I sure love her”.

After arriving at Hospice and getting settled in, we decided we would try to make Dad’s wish come true.

Late yesterday afternoon, Bruce was able to check Mom out and bring her to the Hospice House where our family would be reunited for the first time since July of last year.

Mom was confused, and didn’t comprehend the situation.  Dad could not open his eyes, but she held his hand and said “he needed a nap”.  For what must have been about an hour our family was together again for one last time.  We believe Dad knew she was there.  Although he was unable to join in, we believe he was able to hear our voices as we laughed and spoke of many happy times together.

My sister in law, Sandi, snapped one final family picture just before we had to part for the last time.

It was the most bittersweet moment of my life.

Such a joy for all of us to be together once again.

Yet heart rending to know that this would be the last time we would ever be together as a family in this life.

What a blessing to know that even though the circle will be forever broken here, that the message is true that closed each of Dad’s radio broadcasts for the past 35 years.  “Christians will NEVER see each other for the last time.” 



Thursday, April 24, 2014

As the Month of May Approaches...

I cannot read Proverbs 31 without thinking of my precious mother.  Verses 26-30 could just as well have been written specifically about my Mom.

“She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:  “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.” Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”

The month of May not only brings May Flowers, but it also brings the Mother’s Day holiday (originated by the way, here in West Virginia), but also the 85th birthday of my mother, Patsy Ruth Stidham Adkins.  This year, for the first time, we will be recognizing those two special days in the Alzheimer’s Unit of the Huntington Health and Rehabilitation Center. As happens with many other milestones in life, since December 22nd of last year, things will never again be the same in our family.

 
My mother was a wonderful example of a Christian woman and the ultimate minister’s wife.  All the characteristics of the “virtuous woman” of Proverbs 31 were present in her life, but these few verses pretty well sum up the impact she made in this life.

I could write volumes on the things of eternal value I have learned from my mother, but let me just use the words of “King Lemuel” to say it succinctly and powerfully.

Mom doesn’t know that Mother’s Day is coming up soon.  She doesn’t know her birthday follows shortly afterward.  Furthermore, although she can name the names of her three sons, she rarely recognizes us, and cannot comprehend who we are when we tell her. She does, however, think she is in church most of the time.  She travels about the 4th floor greeting nurses, aides, and fellow patients with a handshake, or a kiss on the cheek, and a hearty “God bless you!”

Several years ago, shortly after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, Mom went through the natural stages.  First she was in denial.  Eventually she fell into depression and worried about what the eventual outcome would be.  With tears in her eyes she told us, “I’m afraid I won’t know who my family members are.”  My brother, Bruce, told her, “Maybe so, Mom, but we’ll know who YOU are and we’ll still love you like we always have.”
 
She’s now at that place in life that she had feared.  And so are we. 

Much has changed since she cared for us as little ones, but this fact remains.  Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:  ‘Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.” Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.’”

We love you Mom.