“Is that your mother?” A question asked of me, for over 30 years now, whenever I am out and about with Bill’s mom, Judy. We fondly call her “G-Mama” today.
When I met her years ago, while her kids were still in college and her husband was the new president of Trans World Corporation, I watched her juggle two sons playing college football at different universities which meant attending two college football games on Saturday. She juggled living between New York City and Spartanburg, SC, driving and delivering Meals on Wheels, and caring for her father-in-law when they moved him to Spartanburg from Florida.
I can remember visiting their home in Spartanburg for the weekend and she would fly in on an early flight from New York on Friday morning, only to jump right back in the car for her Bible study at Westminster Presbyterian Church. From there she went on to her Friday group for lunch, then off to the grocery store so that she could get home and cook for the small army that she would feed at dinner.
Eventually their lives slowed down with regard to G-Daddy’s work demands and they became snow birds, living between the mountains of North Carolina, Spartanburg, SC, and Palm Beach Garden’s, FL. I have gleaned so much from watching G-Mama for years now. The one thing that truly stands out to me is where she has invested her time and money in every place she has lived. She has involved herself in every place. First of all, finding a Bible study group, then a church home, then a place to give of herself and her money–from the hospital in Spartanburg where “The Judy Bradshaw Foundation” supports very needy families who have children born with major medical needs, to the homeless shelter in Florida, to the orphanage in the mountains of North Carolina.
When we go to visit, she, of course, gives of her time and love to us, but she never puts down nor neglects her call to serve and give. It is a TOP and significant priority in her life. She is a “well-oiled machine” driven to serve and fulfill her “call in life”. She is my “Mother Teresa.” Jesus commanded us to love one another (John 13:34-35). And what better way to demonstrate the love and kindness and compassion of Jesus Christ than by reaching out to the “least of these” among us?
This past fall as I was able to spend the day with her in Spartanburg, we headed out to the Christian book store across town. We were chatting and she told me about getting to meet Mother Teresa years ago and how she admired her life. I thought to myself and even verbalized to her, “You remind me of her!” G-Mama quickly shunned that idea! Judy is one of the most humble people you will ever meet. She does not at all enjoy nor desire the “spotlight.” She is a busy, very busy bee with serving! She is only 5′ 2″ and maybe weighs 100 pounds but her HEART weighs 2 tons.
Several years ago I watched Judy and Big C (Bill’s dad) walk a horrific walk of the sudden death of their baby girl, Dargan! The most I have ever learned from them is how to TRUST GOD’S heart and continue with God’s call in life when a tsunami rocks your world. I have watched them now, up-close and personal, walk the dark, painful, gruesome path of emotional loss and pain doing it bravely, humbly, and holding God’s hand tighter than you can imagine. Tearful quiet moments of shear agony, all the while never wavering in their commitment to give and serve to others less fortunate.
I have watched Judy closely. She would be the first to tell you she isn’t perfect. All who know her, not just from being the wife of a very successful business man, nor the mother of three kids, two of whom were college quarterbacks, know her to be a woman after God’s own heart. She is living out loud the verse, “If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with action and in truth” (I John 3:17-18).
You simply know the LOVE OF GOD lives in that tiny body that somehow carries around a 2 ton heart and whose name is Judy Bradshaw.
“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” ~Mother Teresa