This past Mother’s Day got me to thinking about the women–outside of my mother–who have shaped my life. Below is a synopsis of each one arranged CHRONOLOGICALLY based on when they came onto the scene and started impacting my life:
LADY JEAN MITCHELL (wife of the late Elder S.E. Mitchell who) during my college years in Denton, Texas taught me how to walk in God’s grace when faced with grief. She helped me deal with the sudden death of my high school sweetheart when I was a sophomore. I still use her principle of crying out, “Help me, Lord!” even in recent losses. Once, when the doctors pronounced her husband dead, she commanded life to return to him; it did. She was and is a powerful woman of faith! My first venture into believing God for good grades, etc.began at St. Andrews Church of God in Christ in Denton.
BISHOP E.C. REEMS was a trailblazer in the Church of God in Christ who DEMONSTRATED that anything was possible; she lit the fires of my ambition by example–going where no woman had gone before in leadership, heading up her own church–never losing her femininity. She is to this day a sharp dresser but most importantly a woman of prayer. I love the fact that she was never dissuaded or deterred by the opinion of others. She is still on the battlefield in her latter years, preaching the Gospel and inspiring women to maximize their potential.
The late DR. MARLENE TALLEY was prayer and love personified. She demonstrated what it meant to sacrifice for others and to “stay on the altar”. I made several trips from California to Philadelphia to be on the altar, to learn to “pray thru”. She was mentored by the late Mother E.J. Dabney. She taught me how to look beyond the faults of others and to just “focus on the good parts”. A spiritual drill sergeant, she rescued me before I was trapped by sinful preachers sent by satan to derail me.
The late DR. JUANITA SMITH: My Elijah… everyone says I caught her mantle. She was my pastor’s wife at the West Adams Foursquare Church in Los Angeles– and later my pastor for a short season after our dear pastor Dr. H. Marvin Smith had a stroke & became disabled. She influenced me to no end. Brilliant, anointed, balanced, caring, fun, funny, down to earth–and the wisest of 10,000 when it came to honoring men, husbands, etc. I have a great marriage to this day because of her teaching. When it came to forgiving others, she always said, “I release everybody”–and she did. I saw her do it. My, how that has helped me. My next book is dedicated to her (“Forgive, Let Go, and Live”)
DR. BARBARA McCOO LEWIS heads up the Dept. of Women for the Church of God in Christ (Southern Calif. 1st Jurisdiction). I love her style. Like Dr. Juanita Smith, she is wise, prayerful, sensitive to the needs of women, beautiful, and has a great marriage. She constantly honors her husband. She has not compromised, but holds to high standards of holiness–such a rarity these days. She knows how to humbly wait for God to open doors—while being eminently qualified to step right in at any time. She fights her battles on her knees. She is an awesome, articulate speaker with a clear message. What a model!
I don’t know what I did to merit the attention and support of these awesome ladies but I do know that I want to be a similar influence on other women. I SALUTE, APPRECIATE, and am ETERNALLY GRATEFUL FOR EACH ONE.