Friday, January 18, 2008

Jesus Gift

When someone that you love desperately is stripped from your life, aren't you supposed to be left with only the sweet memories? I feel like this is what "they" say happens...I know that for me this has not been the case, and I didn't really realize it until I received a surprise gift from Jesus.

My Mom was a wonderful, beautiful, gifted woman of God, BUT she (like all of us) had her flaws. Like the way she loved food. I can remember being little and getting all "A's" on my report card. The reward for this feat was being allowed to pick what restaurant the family would go out to for a celebration. I can still see Mom putting on her make-up in front of the bathroom mirror and convincing me that what I REALLY wanted was Red Lobster--just think about those buttery cheese biscuits, she said--and I should run downstairs quick and tell Dad before I changed my mind. There weren't a whole lot of restaurants to choose from in Dothan at that time, and I think she was worried I would pick Taco Bell. You'd think this little manipulation would have gotten better with age, but she only got more particular. She spent a lot of time in Birmingham between doctor's check-ups and treatments, and she NEVER left without a sumptuous meal. She might tell me that, "Oh, she didn't care what we ate. Your pregnant Abby, why don't you pick." But as I listed one restaurant after another, that cute little nose of hers would squinch up in utter disdain until I named the place she'd been wanting all along. Never mind that it was the FishMarket and the THOUGHT (much less the smell) of fish at 12 weeks pregnant sent me running for the nearest restroom, it was what she wanted.

Or, more seriously, there were the little jabs she could throw in, under the guise of helping me. There were few times she walked into our house, without a comment like, "Abby, we really need to clean out these closets" or "I don't know how you can stand to leave those clean clothes piled up without folding them" or "Are you sure you can thaw chicken out in warm water like that?" or "You aren't really going to spank her for that, are you?"

So, unbeknownst to my conscious self, I was fighting off the pain of not having her, by focusing on the things she did that made me mad. I would feel a jabbing pain at the fear of Pace not remembering her Bebe, but a vision of that disdainfully squinched nose would pop into my head. Or I would ache to talk to her after a disagreement with Jeremiah, and those guilty feelings she used to impose would creep into my heart. In essence, I was losing who she was 99% of the time to the ugliness she displayed 1% of the time, in an effort to cope.

So, on my last night in Dothan, I was foraging through a stack of notes on the kitchen counter. Suddenly, I see what looks like my name scribbled across the top of a sheet of paper in Mom's handwriting, and I catch my breath. When I realized that it wasn't really my name, and instead it was Alz. (I want you to realize here that Mom's faith was so strong that some of the last notes she made were how to prevent Alzheimers :) Here she was distended with cancer but worried about getting Alz. when she was 80), I was overcome with grief. I realized that I didn't have anything that I could think of where I had my name written in her handwriting.

I tucked the notes away, thankful for the little scraps with her handwriting and everyday notes like, "Roast started 5:33." Then I headed back to my room to continue the mountain of packing. This is where Jesus jumped in. Besides the fact that He led me, there was no reason for me to walk over to the little tin bucket, tucked away under my nightstand, filled with random books from high school. I started flipping through the titles, and had laid aside a little notebook that I didn't recognize, when I thought I might better check and just make sure there was nothing written in it. As it fell open in my lap, all I registered was my name peppered across the pages in the handwriting that I'd longed for.

I flipped back to the first page and realized that it was a journal that Mom started in January 2000. I wept...hard as my heart was kindled by the joy of remembering her day-to-day. The errands she ran, movies she watched, chores she'd finished, and meals she'd planned. However, the true gift was even greater than these everyday reminders. That journal had begun as a record of her "mundane," but it became an in-depth record of the sweet beginning of mine and Jeremiah's relationship. As I cried and cherished every word, God reminded me who my mom really was. A best friend, who loved me so much that she took the time to chronicle every hand-hold, phone conversation, and kiss between me and my new boyfriend. A mom who didn't tell me, but instead wrote down, how she and Dad knelt and prayed for us after we walked out the door to go on a date. A mom who listened to her excited 17 year-old daughter so closely that she could even recall in her journal that night the way I'd said Jeremiah put his hands in his pockets while he talked. As the love and memories welled in my heart, the realization of the bitterness I was creating was forced to the surface.

Jesus led me from a place where I was clinging to a scrap of paper with Alz.--that sorta kinda looked like my name in Mom's handwriting-- to a place where I held a journal filled with not only my name, but her recollections on how THE love in my life began. She might have been overly opinionated about things that didn't matter. She might have made me feel like my house wasn't clean enough. But more than that, she loved me and celebrated my life fiercely, and I am thankful that Jesus gave me a tangible reminder of that.

20 comments:

Lori said...

Oh Abby you made me laugh with all those food memories. I remember one time when Becky and I got up at 4:00 a.m. to go to Atlanta to shop. I had baked a cake that week and brought along a piece for Becky to snack on. The icing was 99% butter and you KNOW how she loves butter. Girl, I looked over at your mom - and she had eaten that cake and was licking the cellophane! It's one of my favorite memories. When Becky and your Aunt Alice and I would get together, we would laugh until we cried. I do have a memory of a conversation we had about our children. I think we had been talking about our early days of marriage. We had both lived in trailers and were laughing about how small and pitiful they were. She just suddenly teared up and said "Abby is so special to me". I remember it like it was yesterday. You were right there with her in that little trailer in Auburn. Those are precious memories. I miss her so much, but I am praising God that she is restored and able to enjoy her eternal life with him.
Loving you, Miss Lori

Anonymous said...

You are such an insperation!!

Anonymous said...

*inspiration** sorry!

meredith said...

There is nothing wrong with choosing Taco Bell as a celebration meal! I think my dad would be more upset if Charles and I chose Red Lobster over Taco Bell!

Anonymous said...

Abby, Keep searching and remember that God gave us eyes to see, ears to listen, and a mouth to bring forth his praise! I know in my heart you will receive so many more gifts from heaven. My own Dad sends me pennies from heaven! I adore receiving them and knowing his spirit is around and well! When you miss your Mom the most be sure to open those wonderful eyes and listen very carefully...you, too, will receive those special gifts that will open your mouth in his praise! I am always thrilled to see you have added a new thought to your blog. I continue to learn from your wisdom! God Bless. A true fan!

Kelli Peterson said...

Abby, you do not know me. I used to go to First Baptist Dothan. I first knew your mom there as my husband and I sat in a "Tool Time" class taught by your dad. it was a marriage class held on Sunday afternoons. I remember being in awe of your parents. I remember your mom's smile and how striking it was. Even as I looked at the picture you have posted up top the first thing I noticed was her smile. I remember years ago I used to run into your mom on the running trail - again, always noticing her smile. When I first found your blog a few months ago and looked back over some of the past posts and pictures again - I noticed her smile!
You have her smile and I know as God continues to send you "pennies from Heaven" (I loved that) you will find more and more reason to show it!

Marianna said...

Abby, I found your blog through Darby's who's I found through Jennie Marie's...anyway, I am so glad that I did! You have a beautiful way with words...I love this post and it reminds me to cherish my Mother more - especially when she tells me how to raise my child! :) I'm glad to have found you in blog world. AOT, Marianna Douglas O'Dea

dbillw said...

Hi Abby,
My wife and I were classmates of your Dad's in vet school. I only learned of the loss of your mom yesterday. Ann sent us an e-mail that included a link to your blog. I have been truly moved by it. We will continue to keep you, your dad and family in our thoughts and prayers.
Sincerely,
Bill

Melissa said...

Wow, Abby. What a cool story. Thanks for sharing and reminding us all of Christ's faithfulness. He's so good - and I love those moments when He shows us His sweet kindness in ways we don't expect. I love you!

Courtney said...

Abby,
What an inspiration your faith is to all of those who read your blog! This is Courtney (Lukens) Baxley & I haven't seen you in forever- but you & your family have been in our prayers & I enjoy keeping up with your blog. Thank you for all of your precious words & inspiring faith.
Courtney

Tonja said...

Isn't that just like our dear Lord? To put what we need the most right in front of us! Just another example of how he truly loves and cares when we hurt.

You should remember everything about your Mom...good and bad. All of the things she was is what made her into the Mom you so adored. If you choose to only remember the 'good' parts, that somehow leaves a whole part of her missing. When you tell your daughters about her , tell them all those things. That's the REAL Becky...the one who was so loved...by so many.

Your writing continues to be so inspirational.

God Bless,

Tonja

Michelle said...

Hi there, Abby-
I discovered your blog site through Stewart Hill... and now, whenever I find myself reading of his adventures, and well, very "Stew"-esque misadventures, I always find myself coming to your site as well.
I know you and your family.. all of it... have been through so much lately, and I have thought of you all often. Of the daily joys and fears and peace and anger that must be quite a roller coaster... but I'm glad that you have this outlet... and know that we are out there listening and empathizing and thinking of you and praying for you.

I'll look forward to many more of your heartfelt blogs.. thinking of you!

Robin said...

Abby,
Tjis is so funny. I dreamed about your mom last night and we were cleaning out a closet!( We used to do that kind of stuff together
) She would not let me throw any of Caroline's stuff away..I am in Arizona with Dee and just read your blog..It was so wonderful to see her in my dream. I Love and think of you often.......... Mrs. Robin

Anonymous said...

Dear Abby,It seems when my heart is heavy, and I feel lost...God directs me towards your blog! I read what you said about the little things that were keeping you from remembering all the wonderfully things concering your mom. I had to read and reread that. I, realized that God was showing me...I, too, do the same and what a lost it is to just see the wrong in others. Thank you, dear, for opening my eyes. You have given me much to think about today. In his love, A true, and learing fan!

watch515 said...

Thank you for that gift Abby....thank you for your honesty and your willingness to share how God is teaching you, transforming you, and molding you into such an amazing woman...I am so grateful for this today...

Dana said...

Abby,
I just love this! I can vision your mom with her nose scrunched up saying "Abby...." and her laugh! I love how you have so much of her in you...like the corners or your pillow shams perfectly turned up & us not being able to sit on your bed once it was made growing up. :) I also remember many dinners at Red Lobster w/ you & my fam.....love it!
Love you & miss you!
Dana

Marla said...

Hi Abby! This is Marla. I do not have your email and would like to contact you. Mine is contentinallthings@yahoo.com. When you get a minute, can you shoot me an email so I can get hold of you? Much love and thoughts and tons of prayers, froma sympathetic and empathetic heart.

Cynthia said...

Abby, you do not know me but your dad was our first SS. teacher when we moved to Dothan. I will never forget the Sunday he and Edwin Morris tagged teamed and the subject was family. Your dad told how each night he and your mom knelt by you bed and prayed for your boyfriends and you husbands to be. This was back in 1992. I always kept up with your family through friends. After Becky's Homecoming I was given your blog site and I can't wait each day to check for new blogs. I was reading your last blog were you had found Becky's journal and she wrote how she and your dad knelt by your bed and prayed after you would leave an a date and it all came back to me that so 17 years ago I heard your dad tell that same story. Your Mom may be gone from you now but she truly lives on in you. You are a precious and beautiful women, so much like you mom.

Emily said...

Hi Abby! I don't know if you remember me but we knew each other YEARS ago when we were little girls. I'm Emily Laseter--does that ring a bell? Well whether it does or not, I just stumbled across your blog today and I am just amazed and inspired by your wisdom and your sweet, sweet heart. I don't think we've spoken since we were, ohhh 8 or 9 :) but since I heard about your mom I've been keeping you and your family in my prayers. Your faith is truly inspirational and your precious daughters are so blessed to have a mother (and father, I'm sure) that can endure life's harshest blows and continue to believe--to KNOW--that God is faithful and good. ("Good" seems like such an inadequate way to describe His goodness!) I hope I can navigate my way back to your blog again--I loved reading it!Love, Emily

Taylor said...

hey abby,
somedays I remember her and think I cant go on without her here but then I realize we have each other and well if i cant get any of you on the phone i can just read your blog!! ok love you bye