As a South Floridian I’m required to be a Miami Heat fan, but I put my loyalties aside to cheer when Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder was awarded the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award last week.
His acceptance speech is one that will not soon be forgotten. He opened AND closed with thanking God, graciously adding a personal word of thanks or encouragement for every single one of his teammates.
But the most memorable part of his speech came when he transparently opened up about his tough beginnings moving from place to place, being raised by a single mom, and not having much going for him and his brother.
“Everybody told us we weren’t supposed to be here. We moved from apartment to apartment by ourselves.”
Through tears, he proclaimed to his mother, Wanda Pratt, that, ““You made us believe, you kept us off the street, you put clothes on our backs, food on the table,” he added.
“You went to sleep hungry. You sacrificed for us. You’re the real MVP.”
While I don’t have a MVP award to attribute to my mom, I do have a deep, strong faith that she played a huge role in crafting.
I could write a book about how much I love and respect Mom. She has taught me so much through her words, example and passion. Some might think growing up “on the move” as a missionary kid could be considered a “tough beginning” for me—that I might have missed out on a lot of things.
Yes, my missionary parents traveled a lot in my growing up years, but I have never lacked a safe place at home, centered and protected by the loving presence of my mom. I’ll never forget when I was a young boy and spent the night trapped in war-torn Beirut airport with my brother, sister and some missionary caregivers separated from my parents. When airport officials told us we would be unable board the plane that would reunite us with our parents, I was so upset that apparently I kicked a metal trashcan against a wall, scattering papers in the air and leaving the indentation of my foot in said kicked trash bin. All I wanted was to be back to safety with my mom! *
When I think about growing up and some of the things I learned from Mom, I can practically smell the gourmet foods I still love that she introduced me to and taught me to prepare. In my mind, “home” sounds like her concert-quality piano playing that filled every room. I cherish every one of the hundreds of books she has read and discussed with me that engendered my life-long love of literature.
Her New England wit, tongue-in-cheek humor and even her “never know what she’s going to say next” comments have been a constant delight to me; coaxing me to laugh in the face of fear and not take anything or anyone too seriously. But most of all, her bedrock example of consistent Scripture engagement and prayer has inspired me to cement my own spiritual security to sustain and grow my faith through the years.
To all the moms out there—I know some of you are in the thick of things, and it is no small task to raise a child. But your voice and influence in our lives is helping shape who we become as people and as forces to be reckoned with in God’s Kingdom.
Keep up the good work and Happy Mother’s Day!
*This and other stories of my amazing mom and her adventures around the world as a missionary wife are in her newly released book, “…And I Sat There”, download for FREE in honor of Mother’s Day!
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- Return to Africa
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