When I think of my earliest memories of you, they are of how beautiful you are. I remember being little and loving the smell of your perfume in the air and standing small, in awe of the rows of shoes in your closet. I loved to try on your heels that had the bow with the big rhinestone inside. Didn't you have those in 3 colors? And you had tall boots in taupe, tan and black, and I loved to wear them in your big closet and pretend to be Wonderwoman.
Thank you for making me tithe, even when I was little. I remember my $2.50 allowance each week, and I always took my quarter to church. Giving to God first has become a habit, and I credit you with that. You also taught me to avoid credit card debt, and that is something I am thankful for (and so is Selden!). I hope we can teach our kids those same financial disciplines as well as you taught them to me.
You also are to blame for my highly type-A but very efficient way of making a weekly grocery list that is laid out in order of the aisles in the grocery store. I thought you were so strange for all you organizational quirks, but now I have them too, so I think they are quite brilliant.
Thank you for always welcoming my friends and our messes into the house. You saw the genius of play and making art without having lines to stay inside of and encouraged me to wallpaper the inside of my wooden bookshelf as an addition to Barbie's "Dream House." You let me grow up with a sense of enterprise and possibility, and I know that's something God wants us all to develop in our children. You gave me a shelf to sell my handmade earrings on in your salon, and you taught me about profit margins and invested in all of my dreams.
I love how you made every excuse to celebrate. You set the table with candles and flowers, just because sitting down as a family to eat is something to be treasured. And you cooked me fried eggs and toast for breakfast and woke me up with foot rubs until I graduated high school. (Have I told you recently that you are a much better person than I am? It's true. My kids use alarms to wake up and make their own breakfasts. Please don't tell them about the fried eggs and the foot rubs. Thanks.)
You threw the best spiral with a football of anyone in the neighborhood, boys included. And you never pushed me to be all the things you loved. When I didn't really love sports, and I liked art more, you were the biggest art fan on earth.
Thank you for bringing me along to serve others. You lived out a life of ministry in front of me, and I now hope to live that with my kids. I remember crouching in the car, hoping not to get shot driving through unsafe parts of town (for those who don't live in cities where this happens, yes, this is a normal part of life in some areas, not that many car jackers rush to steal Datsun 510's, so we were probably very safe, but that's another matter altogether) to deliver Thanksgiving gifts to a teenage mom and her little babies who lived in a two-room shotgun house. I remember the kids licking Spaghettio's off the bare mattress when we walked in. You taught me to seek out what others need, not what I think they need. And you learned that as you went. We took a turkey that day, and she didn't have an oven. So you took a list of all the things she needed more than turkey, and we came back with curtains and diapers and other things. And you took me to visit people who were sick. And you invited the families of all the prisoners to our church for a special Christmas and made sure they went home with Christmas trees decorated and gifts and that they knew Jesus came for each of them and loves them.
I can't give you a birthday gift that could ever come close to being able to repay you for any of the riches you've cultivated in my life. You've given me courage and determination and tenderness and Jesus. And those things are worth everything.
Happy birthday to a mom I can never repay.
I love you to Jesus!