Julie pulled the scissors across the top of the "Grade A Jumbo Egg" box the postman had dropped at her door. As the tape gave way and the flaps parted, she saw a jumbled collection of books, crocheted items and a doll. In the doll's lap was an envelope with her name scrawled upon it.
"What is Aunt Martha sending now?" Julie wondered. She opened the envelope and unfolded the stationery paper that was Aunt Martha's signature lilac color. The message was brief, only a few sentences,
"Dearest Julie, We were cleaning out some closets and found these things that belonged to Jenny. I thought you might like to have them. Please come visit soon. We miss you. Love--Aunt Martha".
"Are you kidding me," Julie thought, her mood suddenly dark. She didn't want anything that belonged to her mother. She put that relationship behind her years ago. She picked up the box, carried it to the spare bedroom that doubled as a storage room and dropped it into the corner. She stared at the box briefly before giving it a little kick and returning to the stack of mail on the kitchen counter.
A few days later, Julie wandered into the spare room. She had been thinking of the box since it arrived and curiosity finally drove her to look through it. She opened the box and among the items she recognized her mother’s worn leather Bible. She picked it up and thumbed the pages. There was a yellowed piece of paper in the middle and when Julie unfolded it, she immediately recognized her mother’s handwriting. Julie sat on the bed and started to read,
I need your help to be the parent You want me to be. I pray for guidance in teaching Julie to love You as much as I do. Thank You, God, for my precious daughter. She is the most important person in my life. Please guide me in my prayers for her so that I ask Your will and not my own.
Julie’s breath caught in her throat and her pulse quickened at her name, but curiosity turned to seething immediately. “Hmmm,” she thought, “so much for getting help on those parenting skills. The only thing you ever showed me was how you let people run over you.” She continued reading,
I pray for a hedge of protection around her to keep her safe physically and emotionally. There is so much evil in this world that I am constantly afraid for her.
Julie threw the letter into the box, landing it in the doll’s lap. She stared into the doll’s face and then at the ruffled dress. Julie reached over and picked the doll up, examining it more closely. The chop job haircut was unmistakable. Julie had given poor Betsy this haircut. She remembered the story her mother often told of the heart-stopping discovery, not of the hair lying all around, but of Julie holding the scissors in her little toddler hands, proudly admiring her handiwork.
She dropped the doll into the box and left the room, closing the door behind her as if that would also close off the strange feeling in her stomach.
An hour later, Julie was back, reading again,
I pray Julie will walk in a manner pleasing to You. Please give her a heart for obedience to Your Word. My desperate plea is that my relationship with Julie will be a strong bond that joins us forever in our devotion to You and to each other. I pray You will give us both the wisdom of kind words and a forgiving heart.
The last sentence pierced the hard shell of Julie’s heart and guilt rushed in so fast Julie felt the crushing wave in her chest. “Of course you wrote a prayer for me, Mama. I misbehaved time and again and all you ever did was pray about it,” Julie could feel a sob rising in her throat.
Julie watched the morning arrive much like she had watched the previous day depart. Her eyes had followed the second hand of her bedside clock all night as she revisted the last five years. During the wee hours she had formulated her plan. At 7:30 she picked up the phone and dialed.
“Hi, Aunt Martha, it’s me,” Julie stammered, desperate to hold back tears. “I got your box and wondered if I could stop by. Noon would be great. No, don’t tell her. I would like to surprise Mama.”
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