Regina G. Atkins
February 21, 1952 - July 24, 2012
It has been a week since Mom went home to be with the Lord. Her memorial service was yesterday - so beautiful, so healing. I will be going home, finally, after over a month of caring for her and her husband. What a lifetime it has been. My sisters and I spoke at her service. I wanted to share with you my part.
At the end are some pictures of the family. It was a happy and a sad time.
Mom loved the Lord and lived her life to glorify Him.
One of the wonderful things about Mom was that she was very generous. Anyone who knew her knows this. She was generous with her smile, her love, her time and money. But in my puffed up way, I thought she was too generous. I was a prideful daughter and criticized her ways. I covered this pride up by telling her and myself that I was “protecting her from her own foolishness.” I thought she gave unwisely. It was too abundant, too extravagant. Sometimes, I thought the people she gave to did not deserve her gifts. They were ungrateful. They didn’t know the sacrifices she made and took advantage of her. I even thought they weren’t needy enough.
The Bible says to do all things without murmuring and disputing. When we do murmur and complain we are making ourselves out to be “wiser” than God. We are just to obey, even if it doesn't make sense. That is what Mom did.
I remember as a child, very poor, Mom sitting my sisters and I down and telling us of a family that had lost everything in a fire. They had nothing. The house they owned had burned down and they were living in a rental home, but it was empty. She asked us if we would be willing to give them our blankets and pillows. They were sleeping on the floor. I thought, “So are we. That is asking a little too much!” I don’t know if I said anything, I was just a child. But we packed up our trunk with our newly washed and folded blankets and pillows and drove our beat up car to their rental house. It was a very large house overlooking the water in Pacific Grove, CA. It was true, their house was empty. They had nothing and the woman who received our offering cried from gratefulness. But there was also a BMW in the driveway. I just thought, “this doesn't make sense. They have a nicer house and car than us. Why would God have US give to THEM?” We went home and I don’t know what we covered ourselves with. God provided, as He always did, but I was angry and the seeds of prideful rebellion were growing.
At times, many many times, I was the recipient of her generosity. I would think “But I don’t need this!” or “I don’t want this.” Or, I knew that it was beyond her means to give the way she did. She would always say “Laura let me take you shopping. Laura, let me buy you this.” But I didn’t want her to. I didn’t let her be herself or allow her to give to me the way she wanted to give. “It’s too expensive, mom.” Maybe at times that was true. But the bottom line was pride. In my mind, I knew the best way for her to give and she wasn’t doing it right. My way was wisest and best.
Thank God, my stingy, prideful ways did not keep her from giving.
Mom’s generosity was a picture of how God loves us. He loves us Extravagantly. We don’t deserve it. We are not grateful enough for it. It even seems unwise at times.
The Bible says that “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” That doesn’t sound like a very wise plan. Give to the people who are not sinning. Give to the ones that deserve it. But All fall short of the glory of God. There are none that doeth good, no not one.
Even so, in light of this God gives to us so abundantly!
He wants to give us “the Spirit of wisdom and revelation… that we would know the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,” Eph 1:18
“My God shall supply all my needs according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Phil 4:19
“That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in [his] kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.” Eph 2:7
I don’t know if it was deliberately in Mom's mind to show how God loves me every time she wanted to take me shopping, but that is what I see now. How often do I dishonor God in the same way? "God, I don’t need this." Or, "God, I don’t want this."
Because of Mom and how she loved me, I am closer to knowing and understanding God. I don’t want to tell God how to love me or how to give to me. I just want to receive. And now, I also want to give. I want to give like my Mom gave, abundantly, lavishly, and without expectation for a return.
I thank God for using my mom to teach me this lesson. Thank you Don for giving to Mom and allowing her to be so generous. Thank you, Mom, for giving to me even though I was so ungrateful for your many sacrifices. I love you. I will always love you and I look forward to seeing you again.
The Santos Family
Sophia playing "Come thou Fount" at the service
The family left behind.
Don, my three beautiful sisters, and me.