So, I have a black and white photo at home. It’s a chubby 1 1/2 year old baby with hair like Art Gurfunkle, laughing with his smiling mom on their backs.
I remember that day! My mom was holding me on the bed and we were rocking back and forth…rocking more and more each time! And then she would go aaaalllll the way back on her back on the bed and we’d laugh hysterically together!! And then I’d say, “Do it again, mom!”
Actually, I don’t think I could talk that well then. I think I just said, “ ‘gain, mom!”
I remember that day so clearly. In fact, if I think back on all my memories of being a child, that one is my first! It’s the first memory I have of myself! And it’s me, laughing with my mom!
And I have a photo of it! I have a photo of my first memory! I bet that’s unusual!
But how many more memories I have of my mom!!
My dad asked Jesus into his heart at the end of 1976. Just a few months later, he died suddenly. My mom had loved Jesus before him, but without my dad, she was just so lost and confused. She had been so devoted to him and without him, she struggled to find her way and a future alone. But somehow she knew that the only way to give herself hope was to give herself away.
To Jesus and to those He would give her to care for. And did she ever!!
Some folks were starting a crisis pregnancy center (one of the first of those kinds of ministries) in Knoxville. Someone told her to apply. She did. And she got the job!
And she began to give her bold (and getting bolder!) love and heart to suddenly pregnant girls who needed someone who could help them find a solution other than aborting, for the scary, confusing future ahead. She started in the basement of Calvary Baptist on Kingston Pike, near the UT campus until they rented a tiny brick building, hidden behind Clement Hall on the Strip, near 16th and Cumberland.
“Mom, how will they ever find this place?”
“No, this is perfect! They need a place they can sneak into!”, she said.
And did they ever!!
Thousands of girls, and boyfriends with them as well! From 95 lb high schoolers to 350 lb UT football players! First thing they’d see was this sweet-looking, tiny little white-haired granny. It wouldn’t be long before they realized they’d gotten more than they expected! More Jesus! And more love!
Nobody ever got out of that place without hearing about the love of Jesus and the new life He offers!
“I see on your info form that you grew up in church…but I don’t think you know my Jesus, honey! Sit down…I need to tell you about Him!”
I always thought, “I can’t wait to be close to seventy! At that age, you just call people “honey” and say whatever you want to!”
My mom always said that her philosophy at the center was, “Save the baby by saving the mother”.
My mom would preach Jesus to a UT offensive lineman as easily as other grandmas read bedtime stories! She always had some desperate girl or other living with her until they weren’t desperate any more! But love-filled and confident instead! She’d be taking girls home or helping girls out in the toughest neighborhoods of Knoxville until the early hours of the morning at times!
There used to be a commercial on TV that said, “It’s ten o’clock at night. Do you know where your children are?”
Tina and I used to think, “It’s eleven o’clock…” or “it’s midnight. Do you know where your mother is?”
Once, James Dobson asked her to move to Colorado Springs and head up the training of CPC directors across the country for Focus On the Family, seeing that she had been doing it longer than anyone else (as well as being the oldest).
She turned him down.
“Who will love these girls if I go?”
One May Friday, I walked into the center in the late afternoon. An older lady was just leaving.
“Who was that?”
“I never met her before. She came in and sat down. I asked if I could help her. She began to sob and sob. When she got her breath, she told me that she had had an abortion eighteen years before. She had never told anyone. But today would have been the day he or she would have graduated from high school. And she had to tell someone about her broken heart. She sobbed for forty five minutes.”
“What did you do?”
“I held her and sobbed with her.”
“For forty five minutes?”
“Sure! What else would I do?”
My mom eventually got too old to run around Mechanicsville all night. But she won’t be old much longer! My mom will be in Heaven soon! And maybe after 113,000 years of singing and dancing and going crazy for love of our Jesus, the Scriptures say we’ll have stuff to do for Him!
“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city…No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him!”
And my mom will be running around for Jesus, serving the Savior she loves! And angels will be asking me, “Do you know where your mother is?”
And all I can say is, “ ‘gain, mom!”