Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Patsy Adkins 1929-2014

Although we had my older son, Jay, bring the message at Mom's Funeral Service this past Sunday, each of Mom's three sons took a few minutes to share a few words regarding our Mom.  As the oldest of the three of us, I went first.  Here are the words that I shared:

Psalm 11:12-15  What shall I render to the Lord for all His benefits to me?  I will lift up the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord.  I will pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of all His people.  Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.

We have gathered today to celebrate the life and to rejoice in the home going of a beloved Mother, Sister, Grandmother, Aunt, Great Grandmother, and Friend.

Patsy Ruth Stidham Adkins was born May 23, 1929 in Ethel, (Logan Co) West Virginia, the eldest of  five children of the late Jerry E. and Mary Sommerville Stidham.  She departed this life from Huntington Health and Rehabilitation on Tuesday morning, October 7, 2014.  Her time on this earth was 85 years, 4 months, and  14 days.  She now dwells in the House of the Lord forever.

In addition to her parents, she was also preceded in death only 104 days ago by her husband, Rev. Caudle Adkins, Jr. who passed away only one week from their 65th wedding anniversary.

Mom was also preceded in death by a sister, Hester Lucinda Stidham and two brothers,
(infant) Charles “Buddy” Stidham and Jerry Robert Stidham.

Mom graduated from Logan High School in 1947 and immediately entered the work force, as a payroll clerk in the offices of Island Creek Coal Company.  When she and Dad moved to Huntington in 1952, she was a stay at home Mom, raising her thee boys and looking after the needs of her family.  In the 1970’s she returned to work, managing the medical office of Dr. Beckett Martin.  She later worked in the office of Hoffman Urological Clinic and finally as a clerk at Niermann’s Pharmacy in our old neighborhood.

Mom trusted Jesus Christ as her Savior as a young girl back in Logan County, and faithfully followed Christ for more than 7 decades.  She supported Dad in his pastoral and evangelistic work, and served her church as a Sunday School Teacher and Vacation Bible School teacher.  Although she never had any daughters, Mom served as a mentor to many girls and young ladies over the years and was a surrogate mother to a some.

She is survived by her younger sister, Dori Wilson and her husband, Vern, of Houston, TX.

Mom is also survived by by my two brothers and their wives, Bruce (Sandi) Adkins of Huntington, Carl (Sarah) Adkins of Atlanta, GA, and Linda and myself.

Also surviving are 6 Grandchildren:
·        Jay Adkins and wife, Michelle of New Orleans, LA
·        Benji Adkins and wife, Leigh Anne of Ashland, KY
·        Joshua Adkins
·        Caleb Adkins (both of Huntington)
·        Kate and Alex Adkins, students at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, AL

Five Great Grandchildren
·        Quint Adkins
·        Will Adkins
·        Canon Adkins
·        Asher Adkins
·        Nathaniel Adkins

Two Step Grandchildren:
·        Merle (Erica) Wooten of Huntington
·        Lea (James) Dalton of Hurricane, WV

Six step great grandchildren
·        Amber, Katie & Austin Wooten
·        Wesley, Ethan, and Olivia Dalton

Mom is also survived by many loving nieces and nephews, a large family of brothers and sisters in Christ, and a special friend, Alice Davis.

On behalf of our family, I would like to thank you all for your attendance here today, for your many expressions of sympathy and love, and we would also like to thank the staff of Huntington Health and Rehab for their wonderful care for her for these past 10 months. We would also like to thank the staff of Chapman’s Mortuary for their kind assistance to our family twice in the last 3 months.

It is natural for us to cling to this body, because it is hard to disassociate it from the one who lived in it.. who nurtured and raised us and sacrificed for us.  But in reality, it is only the worn out garment that Mom cast aside on Tuesday morning when she went to be with her Lord.

My Mother was a wonderful, godly woman.  There is no way I could put 64 years of memory and appreciation into words today.  I thank God that she was my mother.

Like Abraham Lincoln I would simply say today, “All that I am or ever will be, I owe to my Angel Mother”.

I think Mom’s 85 years could be simply summed up in two words.  Faith and Family

She was the best person I have ever known, but if she were here today she would shun the spotlight.  She would simply say, “I’m just a sinner saved by grace”.

I miss her and thank God that she is now living in total clarity, in a land where we’ll never grow old, and in the presence of her Lord and Savior.  

This is not goodbye Mom, but only farewell for a little while.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Two Dollars And A Swaller

I guess politics is in my blood.

As a Pastor, I have been convicted about bringing politics into the pulpit.
Not moral issues.
Not biblical issues.
But partisan politics.
You know what I'm talking about. "God is on our side!" "No! He's on our side!"

I have often said "Almighty God does not ride on the back of Elephants or Donkeys, but the last time I said that, Deacon Jim Lackey said "Well, He did one time."  OK. Point made.

Giving props to Palm Sunday, I still stand by my commitment to keep partisan bickering out of the pulpit.
That is hard for me, because my flesh loves it so.  As I said it seems that it is in my blood,

Both of my grandfathers were "New Deal" Democrats.

One ran for, and won public office. He served two terms in the West Virginia House of Delegates, representing Logan Co. In later years he was a lobbyist for the United Mine Workers of America, where he courted all of the Democrat movers and shakers in the Mountain State.

The other was also active in Democrat politics, but in a very different way.  He never ran for office in his native Lincoln County, WV, but he was deeply involved in electing those from his party who did,

Papaw Adkins (Caudle Adkins, Sr.) was a faithful foot soldier for his party in Lincoln Co.  So deep were his Democratic ties, that he even had a German Shepherd named Rex, whom he had taught to sit silently when asked if he were a Republican and to bark loudly when asked "Rex, are you a Democrat?"

This drove his GOP mother in law, from neighboring Wayne Co, crazy.

Testifying to his devotion to the party, during the Great Depression, he was rewarded with a supervisory position on the Works Projects Administration (WPA).

Lincoln County was, and sadly still is, a hotbed of political shenanigans.  As recently as a few years ago, several county officials not only were removed from office for voting irregularities, but also went to prison.

Dad told me once about a time when he was a young boy living in the county seat.  On the night before local elections, he went with Papaw on a "get out the vote project" of sorts.  Dad remembered his father having several crates of small liquor bottles in the trunk of his Ford, and a huge roll of Two Dollar bills in his pocket. They traveled up one hollow after another, stopping from house to house, leaving a bottle and a $2.00 bill for any registered voter who promised to cast his vote for the slate of candidates backed by the county party machine.

Word is that the next day, there was a party official at each precinct who checked each ballot cast by the recipients of the Two Dollars and a Swaller before they went into the ballot box.  If the voter had upheld his end of the transaction, the poll worker would signal a thumbs up to a guy who was lurking around the polling place.  That thumbs up went a long way toward getting gravel on your road when needed before winter.

Dad often told of driving up one creek or another and seeing new gravel along a stretch of road in front of some houses, and just rutted, muddy, ungraveled roadway in front of the homes of those who would have had the nerve to go against the slate.

Apparently there were even dead people who often cast ballots in the Lincoln Co elections back in the day.

It occurs to me that politics hasn't really changed much here in the mountains of West Virginia and eastern Kentucky since the 30's..  Technology has advanced, but money still plays a big role in politics.  If you don't believe that, then you haven't had a television on for a while.

Money still speaks volumes in elections.  I don't know what the cost of a vote would be today, but it appears to be much higher now that "Two Dollars and a Swaller" of my Dad's day.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Just When I Needed It Most

I never cease to be amazed at how our Lord knows exactly what we need, and how He often uses others to encourage us - just when we need it most.

It was the last day of April of this year.  Without going into all the details, let me just say that I was going through a very dark and difficult time in my life and ministry.  Frustration.  Depression. Discouragement.  You've probably been there.

When the mail arrived, there were the usual bills, junk mail, etc. Mixed in with the other stuff, was the card you see pictured here.
It came from a young wife and mother whom I had known since she was in 1st or 2nd grade.  Her parents were old friends of ours and our sons had played baseball together from Little League through High School and Summer Ball.

I hadn't seen the young lady for a number of years.  We were friends on Facebook, so I have been able to keep up with her and her growing young family.  She had married a young man who had been in the youth group at a former church I served as Pastor many years ago.  He had accepted Christ and had a real desire to serve the Lord in his life.  I had not seen either of them in a number of years, yet "out of the blue" at a time when I was beginning to feel "what's the use?", this card comes in the mail.

I am not using their names, as I have not asked her permission to do so, but here is what the young lady had written on the inside:

I'm going to steal a line from a song I'm sure you have heard many times. "Thank you for giving to the Lord. I am a life that was changed." 
I'm not sure if you know what an impact you had on my husband's life.
You were such a strong, Christian role model in _______'s teen age years.  Under your ministry he became a Christian. As a direct result of your ministry I have a Christian husband.  My girls have a Christian father.
He is a leader, serving in our church.,  He is respected at his work and is known as being a man of integrity and character. That is all a direct result of your example in his life.
Although it has been a long time since either of you were at Ashland Baptist, __________ still respects your teaching of the Word and refers back to things you have preached or taught.
I don't believe in coincidence and I think it is amazing that a man who has known my family my whole life is also the man who led another man at a different time in life to the Lord!
It is an assurance to me that God is always working in our lives, even when we don't see it!
Again, I just wanted to take a minute and let you know that we love and appreciate you and Linda and are forever grateful for your ministry and friendship.  Phil. 1:3 "I thank my God upon every remembrance of you."
                                             In Christ's Love,

Well, let me tell you this.  By the time I got to the end of the note I could barely read it for the tears welling up in my eyes.

I hadn't had much contact with either of these folks in a number of years, yet God used this young lady to minister to me in such a tremendous way.

I began to think about how God put it on her heart a couple of days earlier to send this card and write that beautiful note, and drop it in the mail so I would receive it when I was at my lowest point in years! As Dr. Chuck Kelley would say, "To coin an ancient Hebrew expression, WOW!"

I immediately wrote her a private message on Facebook to thank her, and here is the exchange.

Dear ________,
I received your beautiful card and note yesterday afternoon. You cannot imagine what it meant to me especially with what I was going through at the time. Our God used you to bless and encourage me when I needed it most. Thanks for being attuned to His Spirit and being used by Him to encourage this old preacher.
I love you guys and am humbled that The Lord allowed me to be part of His plan for your lives, Oh how He loves us!

Here is her reply:
I can't express to you how strongly God had put you on my heart to send it....and how much the devil has been on my back since!! He does love us!! Have a blessed day

Isn't it interesting how she said God had put me so strongly on her heart ?
She had no idea of the valley I was walking through at the time.

Isn't it also interesting how Satan had hit her so hard for being obedient to the Father?

What a wonderful Lord we serve. He knows us. He loves us. And He's there just when we need Him the most.

Circumstances actually got worse for me over the next two months, but God used this young lady and her note to help remind me that it hasn't been in vain. My spirits were raised, and His Spirit helped carry me through the next two months with the joy that comes from knowing Him.

Thank you, Lord for using this young lady to bless me and minister to my spirit, when I needed it so badly.

And thank you _____________ for being obedient to His Spirit.