Here is Big T on move in day! Precious moment!
THIS WILL BE A LONG ONE-WARNING :) YOU WILL NEED SOME TIME TO READ!
Growing up in a small town and still living there now, I have come to love the "perk" of knowing many people. Even today one very special friend, Georgia Mother, was my back door neighbor when we were preschoolers. The other day I went to the local deli and when they called out, "grilled chicken salad on pita, lettuce and tomato", the owner said, "oh, that's Wendy's, she always orders that". I thought, how sweet and special I feel that someone remembered my name and knows me. . it feels good to be "known". Later that day, I swung into the cleaners drive thru line. The sweet worker brought out my order without me even having to call out my name, she knew me! I thought to myself, "this is what I love about small town life!"
Late August, we drove 2 hours southwest to my college alma mater and moved Big T into my former dorm. .talk about surreal. At age 36, I never thought I would be moving one of my children into college where I once loved college life. Some 12 years prior in early August, I began my 2nd year as a first grade school teacher. . a sweet, thin, beautiful girl entered my classroom, her name was Tabitha. I so wish I had a picture of her then, she was precious (still is). She was very smart, and I taught in a lower income school, so many students struggled even with first grade curriculum. Not Tabitha, she was a learner, she got new concepts quickly, she was a happy child. A few months into the school year, Tabitha began to get sleepy during the day often, lay her head down and sleep. I remember vividly her dark, almost black hair laying down on her desk for a quick nap. I would come home and tell J about her, how much I loved her, I felt drawn to her. He told me emphatically, "tell your principal, she can come live with us, whatever she needs" (true story, but boy we were young didn't have a clue how the child care system worked). After talking with our school counselor about some concerns the ball starting rolling on some things and Tabitha and her younger sister went to live with their Grandmother. She was a precious Grandmother, she loved those girls dearly. She would come to parent conference day. . Tabitha was going to be ok.
I kept up with Tabitha and her younger sister over the next four years as they stayed at my school, but that year their grandmother would pass away due to a quick illness with liver cancer. Tragic. The girls left our school. . and well, I just lost touch with them. Fast forward to 2002, we had started our current job and were at the local mall carousel. There were the girls, I knew it was them, they were with another couple. I remember saying to one of my older girls, "that's Tabitha, I taught her when she was in first grade, but I don't know those people she is with, but she looks great." I went up and said hi, but I don't even know if Tabitha remembered me, she was still only a 6th grader or so at this point.
Fast forward to the spring of 2006, we were very new members at a new church in town and our church was hosting a "girls day" for a local girls home. I went as I had helped arrange for two girls that had grown up in WinShape Homes to give their testimony and speak to the girls in attendance. As I was sitting at a round table, with my friend, I remember telling her, "That's Tabitha ______, I used to teach her" I immediately started making calls, speaking with her mentor, our program director, and anyone I could to see if Tabitha could live with us since I knew we had a spot and she had recently expressed she wanted to live in a home. That was April, that June she moved in and spent her high school years with us. It was always HER, her inner beauty that drew me into her. Her name was unforgettable and I KNEW HER and her story. I loved her.
Tabitha had her ups and downs with us, mostly ups. Literally, every year of high school her GPA rose by several points, she quickly adapted to a private, christian high school, gained friends quickly at school and church, got involved, was selected time and time again for leadership opportunities, including one trip to Washington, D. C. She also had many moments she grew frustrated with our rules and guidelines. Even guidelines that our hands were tied on because she wasn't physically our daughter. BUT, we worked through them, I honor Tabitha because unlike my other older girls that lived here, She. stayed. the. course. She has hung in there, EVEN when she didn't love things. I have always bragged about her to my friends and to her, "you know, Tabitha, just gets it. She just gets life." That is a rare gift many in this world don't have.
Fast forward to her senior year of high school, she quickly enrolled in SU, was of course accepted, offered a scholarhsip, and the case was closed. She was going. So here I was, in my former dorm, looking at this precious girl, recognizing all along that GOD had orchestrated this moment. HE has always had her in HIS hands, as He does all of us. Not only did I always know her name, HE DID.
Fast forward to mid-September, Tabitha had planned all along to go through the rush process. Now for those of you that are anti-sorority, this will further your cause that they are ludicrous and mean to girls. For those that are pro-sorority and were even in one, you will get it, that something wrong happened with Tabitha. She went through rush and REALLY wanted the sorority I had been in at SU. Given that Tabitha was a "legacy", (the daughter of a former member) priority should have been given to her, however, she was dropped from their list before the last day. She of course called me. .and boy did we get the ball rolling. It was a rush emergency. I called all of my friends that knew her, had met her, and they all agreed, a great disservice had been done. A new friend I have never even met face to face, Tabitha's boyfriend's mom sprung to action. WE ALL KNOW her, love her and didn't want her to be hurt. Plus, we knew this group was making a big mistake by not picking her. In the end, there was nothing else we could do, and the verdict stood, maybe she just didn't meet enough people and the numbers weren't there. (It's all in a name, right?) Of course I am probably more crushed than Tabitha at this point, she has handled like a pro and I constantly ask her, "are you ok?" "Yes, mom, I am really fine, I am happy for my friends and still may want that sorority next fall". What a trooper. . she once again, gets life. (even though I am still fuming)
Just last night she sent me an email where she has been selected to serve on a special student board within student government simply because, and I quote "your resume and name stood out above all the other applicants". ( I am so proud!)
I must be honest, this job and life and motherhood has taken a deep, emotional toll on me. My heart has been crushed by girls that have left, chosen sinful lives based on their "independence". Ultimately, I don't have control, God does. . trusting HIM with their lives is once of the hardest processes I have ever had to learn. He has taken me on the field trip with that now 3 times. (think I've got it God) I pray for Tabitha daily that she too will hold firm to all she has learned and will TRUST HIM for her dependence, not herself. That she will continue to be directed by HIS hand all of her days. I am so thankful God let me be her mother. .
I am so thankful that even though those sorority girls didn't "know" her like we all do, that even though MANY people in her small hometown KNOW her well, that even though I and her family KNOW her and her detailed story. . GOD knows her even better. I couldn't help but think of this song as I have been writing this post in my head for a month. . listen below and relish the fact that it is true about YOU too.
YOU WILL NEED TO PRESS PAUSE ON MY PLAYLIST ON THE RIGHT TO LISTEN TO THIS SONG!! (SORRY)
These are pictures from a recent visit to see Tab on Parent's Weekend. This fountain is off the main Quad at SU, I walked by this hundreds of times. What a surreal moment to be there with her.
Finally, I wanted to leave you with Tabitha's favorite verse. Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.