Birthday Reflections… Thank You, Mama

MY Naomi

Classy, stylish, loving life! MY mama… MY Naomi… MY biggest cheerleader… Missed but cherished forever! —

Thanking God today for this lady right here. Naomi Daniel Winbush… the most giving, caring, loving person I’ve ever known. Being a mom came so easy to her and because she was MY mom, I am the person that I am today. I often give the testimony about having to believe God for my miracle baby to be conceived and born. In recent years, God has brought it to my attention that I, too, was a miracle baby. During a time when all surgeries were “major” and serious, as a very young woman, my mom had a procedure done so that she would be able to properly carry and deliver children. Had she not done that, neither my brother nor I would be here. She always knew she wanted children and it was obvious to all that she loved us dearly.

She once said, “I could die satisfied today. My children love and are serving the Lord, they each married spouses who love and serve the Lord, and they are raising their children to love and serve the Lord. I’ve done my job. I couldn’t ask for anything else.” This was two years before she left us and it was before any hint or diagnosis of any invasive disease had occurred. So prophetic and such an illustration of what true wealth and riches are. She felt she had fulfilled her purpose, though my sister-in-love and I frantically tried to tell her to take back those words, telling her that her words had power! We didn’t want to hear anything about her leaving us! Hmmmm… she was speaking from her spirit and out of the abundance of her heart, she spoke. What an example, what a role model, what an awesome legacy to embrace!

So today, on my birthday, I am thanking God for this wonderful woman who simply challenged everyone with whom she came in contact to follow her as she followed Christ. Even during the battle she had with cancer, she showed us what true faith, trust, and expectation were about. I told her that she had shown us through the years how to live and that during those last months of her life, once she decided that she was ready to walk out what she’d prophesied two years earlier, she was showing us how to die (as the world sees it) and how to move on to the next phase of life as a believer. During one of those times of fellowship and prayer in the hospital room – (I literally camped out there with a cot for weeks) – she said to the Father, “I believe the WHOLE Bible; I’m not afraid!” as her way of saying to Him and to me, she was expecting to see what she’d believed all her life as far as what was awaiting her after she made her transition.

I cannot help but be who I am, determined to love, trust, and revere God, and believing that every promise that He has made to me will indeed come to pass! I’m MY Mama’s child! As I stood before the congregation, delivering her eulogy 15 years ago, (tag-teaming with my brother), I challenged everyone to grasp the reality that Naomi would live on, in us and through us because of the way she poured out of herself into those with whom she came in contact. I am a truly blessed woman to have had her pour into me, up close and personal! Wow! The seventh of nine children, born a sharecropper’s daughter, she went on to achieve and accomplish things that took her far beyond that Mississippi Delta and the cotton fields that she grew up in.

She lives on and I have the honor of continuing that legacy. When I’m discouraged, even now, her words encourage me. My aunt was with her as she was making those final moves towards making her transition. Aunt Freddie said she looked at the pictures of her grandchildren that were placed in her room where she could see all of them and said, “They’re going to be alright.” I receive that prophetic word and rehearse it almost daily when it comes to being a mom and loving my now grown children and raising my own grandchildren. I am so grateful for that encouragement that she gave and that still keeps giving!

Happy Birthday? Yes. There are tears running down my face even as I’m typing, yet they are not tears of sadness. I look back on a special moment when I was at my mother’s house, having come in to spend some time with her during her illness. As I was leaving the room, I suddenly turned and went back and just hugged and squeezed her, then turned and left. She later said that it reminded her of when I was a little girl, how I’d come and just hug her tight for no reason. I think of that when my granddaughters do the same thing to me. Precious and priceless. No words can explain that spontaneous transference of love! There was another incident in the hospital when my mom turned to me and said, “I love you just like I did when I brought you home from the hospital; my own real baby doll!” Pure, unadulterated, simple, sincere…

I celebrate this birthday, not with an abundance of material things or a big blowout extravaganza, but with a really full heart. I am so grateful to God for my life, for my growth through the experiences I’ve had, and even for the things that are stretching me at this moment. My God is faithful and He has prepared me for what I am facing and will face. I love the fact that He used a short little lady named Naomi to help me be the person that I am today. So on this birthday, I reflect upon, I ponder, and I rehearse what I’ve learned to help propel me on to continue to grow, develop, and become the woman of God that He has called me to be. My mom told me she knew she was called to ministry… I continue to walk out that legacy and carry on her work to the best of my ability, always giving the glory to God for it is all about Him and not about me.

Be encouraged today, as I am, and thank God for your journey as you expect that greater IS coming! Thank you, Mama, for instilling that faith and expectation in me! Happy Birthday to ME!

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