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It was the kind of day that would have brought a smile to my mother’s weathered face. She delighted in the vivid colors of the changing season and the earthy fragrances that ride the breezes like gentle waves kissing sandy shores. It doesn’t seem like a whole month has passed since I last heard her cheery voice. But her body was tired and I guess it was her time to go.
The gravel crunched as I pulled into the familiar driveway. I checked the mailbox for junk mail and made my way to the garden where I could envision mama “working the rows” as she called it. She took pride in her prize winning tomatoes, and canned enough beans for half the neighborhood to enjoy. I inhaled the crisp autumn air mentally preparing myself for the task ahead-- packing up mama’s cottage. Filling a basket with unpicked bounty took me back to when I was a child helping mama snap beans and pull weeds. I replayed those memories and my heart ached for her.
We were best friends until I pulled away from God in my adult years. Mama called it rebellion when I explained I was exploring my options. She shook her righteous finger at me letting me know my choices were flat out immoral, while I insisted there was nothing wrong with living free. An ugly divorce was responsible for the “new me” which distanced our relationship for a number of years until we agreed to disagree.
Slivers of sunlight spilled into the inviting space as I entered the kitchen. I opened shades as I walked through the lonely rooms. Mama’s Bible rested on her nightstand, the worn leather cover spread wide open. Her Bible was personalized with underlines, circled phrases, margin notes and scraps of paper scribbled with words of wisdom for future reference. Mama had written a poem on the paper tucked in the Book of Proverbs. She had highlighted one of the verses: Proverbs 22:6 (NIV) “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”
Unfolding the slip of paper I read her words:
It’s with hope I read this verse
‘Cause I can think of nothing worse
Then living through eternity
Without my daughter close by me.
Again I read the passage through
And trust God’s watching over you,
I believe my child you will return
To Bible lessons once you learned.
Seeds once sown will sprout anew
I believe it now, I really do.
Peacefulness fills my soul
I’m reassured God’s in control.
Mama’s words spoke to me as never before. Gently I folded the poem and noticed the dated reference. It was written the night she died. Tears washed mascara down my cheeks as I begged God’s forgiveness. Then through whispered sobs I assured mama that we’d hug each other in heaven someday.
Parenting is the hardest job in the world. And it’s a job parents never outgrow. If someone you love has taken a detour from their faith, pray for them with a believing heart as Paul does in Ephesians 1:17-19 (NIV)
“I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.”
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Charla, God's ways never cease to bless me. I had not written anything for the challenge for quite a while, but the first entry I submit amidst concerns about a rebellious child garnered a comment from you, which lead me here. Thank you for the encouragement, both of my poem, and through yours.