i am who i am, partly, because of the women who have poured into my life. that part, those traces of their DNA in me, weaves throughout my personality, my existence.
good or bad, strong or weak, happy or sad, you and i carry with us their story. they are a part of us.

some of you have the gift of living in the same town as your extended family. not for me. that's never been the case. looking back, i never thought i was missing out. i simply thought we had it just as good. it always involved packing bags and a three hour drive. our visits took place a few times a year
and were always sweet.

great-great grandmother, mama aubeye with hair as smooth as silk and white as snow. we'd visit her in the nursing home and i'd try so hard to make all the family connections that were being shared.

great-great grandmother, ma-ma, would walk us out to the backyard to pick pears. green and delicious, right off the tree. her neighbors were of a different race, even in a small southern town. that visual is strong.

great grandmother, mama rainwater, had a house on a hill. she had beautiful glass paperweights and our time with her was with all the cousins and our moms. we'd play while they would visit. exploring her house.

great grandmother, nother bea, would bring us family circle cut outs from the newspaper. she loved to make us laugh with her jokes. she never spoke unkindly and seemed to eat up every second we would sit and visit with her. she would greet us at the screen door as she heard us pull up to her driveway. and in her later years, every word from her mouth seemed to be a prayer. she never stopped interceding. that was her Kingdom work even in a hospital bed.

[nother bea and nana]
grandmother, nana, would make visits with papa to see us, especially if it was a school play or church musical. she was a frugal one with a cooler full of mr. pibb for the road. at her house, everything was perfectly neat and orderly. back in the days when you paid for long distance telephone service, nana would call every saturday evening to hear about our week. she cared deeply for her church family and served her church well.
[granny on far right, sticking her tongue out, with her friends]
grandmother, granny, in her rocking chair either on the front porch or in the living room. she'd have juicy fruit gum
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in the pantry and a homemade several layered chocolate cake waiting for us. she stayed up late watching the atlanta news and had the entire atlanta journal-constitution read within the hour of its morning delivery. she served her city well out of a love for the people.

[my mom]
mom, i can't even type her name, without tears forming. could she be any more beautiful? the countenance is a reflection of her heart. the beauty an overflow of her soul.
the other women in my family poured into me, but none like my mom. her calm spirit would and still does greet my most stressful of days. her outlook on life has eternal perspective. she has battled cancer, a deadly tornado, and the hardships of ministry as a pastor's wife. and yet, God remains her refuge and hope. her gift of mercy receives the poorest of the poor and loves all people. she gives generously and loves radically. all with the deepest southern accent and hospitality that ever did exist!

i have been given much as i think of the legacy before me.
a rich family inheritance
prayer warriors
servants of the local church
servants of their city
a strong faith

i take these gifts and pass them down.
i take their prayers and live them out.
i take their example in the church and city and continue it at Epic and in san francisco.

i think of the thousands of prayers these women have uttered with faith believing, not only for their children, but for me.

"each prayer is like a seed that gets planted in the ground. it disappears for a season, but it eventually bears fruit that blesses future generations." [m. batterson]