One of things that happened as Asbury has grown, and as I have made new friends across the state, and strangely, across the nation, some of you know about my story, some don’t. I usually write about it, every April 16. I guess it’s become my way of paying honor to my mother.
As you my know, my mother “Mama Sarah” was murdered on this day in 1978 by my biological father. He struggled with addiction and in a rage, shot and killed her, as she was leaving the house with me in her arms. She was killed on April 16 and buried on April 18.
At that point, I was adopted and raised by my grandparents, Maxine and Connie Stoddard, who I call mama and daddy. So, my mama is actually my maternal grandmother, and my daddy is actually my maternal step-grandfather. See you need a flow chart to understand my family!
The reason I share those dates with you is this. April 16 is my Mama’s birthday. April 18 is my birthday.
So, my Mama Sarah was murdered on her mother’s birthday and was buried on my birthday.
Needless to say, there’s a reason why we aren’t really big birthday people in our house.
On this day, I always take time to think about and reflect upon the sacrifice of my Mama Sarah, but in that, I think I have missed something very important. I want to honor my mom and my dad.
Mama is from Pike County, MS, close to McComb, and when she was younger, as young ladies of the day were wont to do, she went to New Orleans to look for work. There she met a man, fell in love, married him, and moved to his home.
Yep, Ecuador. There she had her two children, Sarah Louisa Leon, and Robert Edgar Leon. But, the marriage fell on very rocky times, with adultery and addiction, and so there was a divorce, and she returned home to Pike County. She still needed to work, though, so she left Sarah and Robert with her mother and father, returned to New Orleans, where she worked during the week, and then returned home during the weekend.
There, she met a handsome street car driver, Connie Stoddard, and they eventually married.
As her kids grew, Sarah become a Special Education teacher in McComb, and Robert entered the military.
Eventually Sarah married, had a child (me) and at first, things seemed just fine.
But, as addictions tend to, the addiction of my biological father pushed him over the edge, to the point where he shot and killed my mother. At that point, mama and daddy moved back home from New Orleans, built a house, raised me, and remain there to this day.
Today is her birthday. She is 84. On this day she was born, and on this day she saw her first-born die. She and daddy adopted me when she was in her late 40s, he in his late 30s. They had raised their kids, and were in the time of their life when they could enjoy life.
And here I fall into their life.
Life ain’t always fair. That’s ok. Life is good. Think about all that my mama has been through. Moved to a foreign country. Divorced. With two kids that were half white/half hispanic. In the 1950s. Worked to support them. Separated from them because of the need to support them. Saw one of them killed. Raised her son.
I think sometimes we have a false impression of what life should be. That things should come easy, and disappointment should never occur.
And if something has gone wrong, then we should just pack up on go home. It’s not worth it.
No. That is not the case. This is Holy Week. This week was hard for our savior. He sweat, He suffered, He died. For our sake. And for the sake of the world. He did what was right. The bible said He set his face like a flint towards Jerusalem. He choose to do the right, hard thing.
And so must we. Life is going to be hard. I know it. It is. Bad stuff is going to happen for no good reason. I know. It is.
But if my life should tell you anything, anything at all, it’s this. God has a plan.
Though Him, you can do it. You can. Keep going. Keep fighting, don’t give up. God has more power available to you, then you’ll ever know. And God is at work in ways you’d never even see.
And my mama, though she lost a daughter named Sarah, has gained a granddaughter (great-granddaughter, technically) named Sarah.
God restored. God redeems. God is at work. He is, trust me. He is.
You can do it. You can. No matter how hard the task may be, you can do it. You can. It says in Genesis 50:20:
As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.
God is at work in your life, even when you don’t feel it, or believe it. He is. Trust. Do the right thing. Remember. Pray. Trust. God is at work.
I asked Mama one day if she hated my biological father, the man who killed her daughter. She paused and said, “No. If I hate him, he wins.”
That’s not easy, that’s not fair. But it is ok. Through God’s strength, you can do what is right. You can, and you must.
For the sake of the Gospel.
Life ain’t always fair. And that’s ok. Because God is always good, no matter what.
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