I spent today interviewing 92-year-old Arthur Kennedy, Ph.D. (Northwest, Chicago) regarding his superb books on Oklahoma history. He signed one of his works for me, a history of the Seminole Nation that is, in my opinion, the best narrative of pre-20th century Oklahoma history in print. What made my conversation with Arthur particularly entertaining is that he knew my deceased grandmother, Margaret (Lee) Burleson, going to school with Margaret when she was a girl in the historic "Big Bend" area of the South Canadian River, just south of Konawa, Oklahoma, the small Seminole Nation township where Dr. Kennedy grew up. I was captivated by Dr. Kennedy's stories about my grandmother. Someone once said, "Men are the thoughts of their mothers and grandmothers, embodied, and made alive. If a man is active, capable, and determined, he owes his inner strength to many great women, some of whom may be dead and gone, but yet speak through him today." I believe that statement true, and am deeply indebted to my grandmothers Margaret Lee Burleson and Virginia Salyer Cherry, as well as my extremely intelligent and incredibly strong mother, Mary Frances Burleson.
Of course, my best friend (pictured) is my wife, Rachelle. She has earned my deepest respect for her accomplishments as a wife, mother and career woman. Her mixture of class, grace and business acumen is unparalled in my opinion. She is in Florida with our only daughter, Charis Burleson, preparing for Charis' wedding in June. Charis has blossomed into a beautiful and intellectual woman in her own right, providing constant encouragment to her father. The older I become, the more I know that who I am today is a result of the five women I've just named. However, there are many other females who have impacted my life for good. I think of Cherri and Melody, two gifted and talented sisters who inspire me every time I am around them. I reflect on Debbie Kaufman and the incredible encouragement she is to me.through her words, her life and her writings. I consider the women on our church's Leadership Team, women like Gail Hackett, Carol Williams, and others and realize they have taught me much so through their leadership and friendship. It is no exaggeration to say I have been strengthened, encouraged, taught, and led by as many competent and gifted women as I have been by Christian men.
It's time to add two additional women to my growing list of personal indebtedness. Dee Parsons and Wanda Martin are two women from North Carolina who run the website Wartburg Watch. I remember when I first read Wartburg and wondered to myself, "Who in the world is writing such powerful stuff?" In the beginning, I didn't even know two women were behind Wartburg. Only after I read a few of their postings, then went and read the on-line profiles, did I realize that women were writing the posts--and writing them very well I might add! Within a couple of years Dee and Wanda flew to Enid, Oklahoma and Rachelle and I became instant and fast friends witth this delightful duo. They are wickedly smart (both have their MBA's), both have intuition about spiritual matters that can only be attributed to the Spirit, and both love (and I mean LOVE) the underdog--as do I. It is with delight that I join with Dee and Wanda in the establishment of a new ministry called EChurch@Wartburg. Rather than explain the new ministry, I would encourage you to go over to Wartburg and read what Dee and Wanda are saying about it. These gals are making an impact in the kingdom of Christ! It's an honor for me to include them on my growing list of strong, competent women who have taught---and are teaching--this pastor!