Today my mom, Judy Hunter Smith, is 80. If you know my mom, you’re shocked; she looks 50. You’re also thankful for her because you surely have a story how she’s loved you over the years. I wrote her a letter today. And after I got the words down, I knew they weren’t just for her…they are for you. I hope you have a mom like mine, but even if you don’t, you can certainly borrow some hope and love from mine…
I’ve put writing this letter OFF for a while now. I like to think of myself as having lots of words, but when I think of you and trying to tell you just how much you mean to me…no words feel strong enough, big enough, loving enough.
Without question (and I know you’ll just shake your head when you read this) you are why I have hope, mom. Yea yea yea, Jesus is my one true hope, but you are hope personified. It all goes back to those days at Arrowhead and the wicker love seat in the garden room for me. That’s where it became REAL for me…this hope that you exude. Ya see, for me, my Highland Village memories are good and easy…little kid stuff. I think back and remember lots of playing with Jonny, eating Doritos in the game room, hide-and-seek in the laundry chute, kickball in the street, eating candy out of Grandma’s candy jar, seeing you and Dad laughing and dancing (I don’t know why I remember lots of laughing with you two, but I do – I mean, remember the square-dancing days???), roller skating in the driveway, going on lake adventures with Grandpa. That was HV for me.
But Arrowhead was different. Don’t get me wrong…I still remember LOTS of fun, hilarious, GOOD stuff with Dad and our whole family and all the animals, but for me Arrowhead is where I saw hope lived out through you. How do i wrap words around SEEING HOPE?
Hope for me, was seeing you in your robe with your coffee and your Bible or devotional of choice sitting in the lil wicker loveseat on the good days, the mundane days…and the unbearable ones. It was the one thing I never doubted even in the darkest times. Never one single time…even in the worst of it…did I wonder if you would persevere and keep trusting God. Never once did I become afraid I’d lose you, too. Never ever ever ever did I think you might turn your back on your faith because life was finally just TOO MUCH. Never once.
Ya see, you shared hope with me even when you didn’t know you were doing it. When you were simply putting one foot in front of the other…just taking the next breath, doing the next thing…you have never been more beautiful or impactful or just pure GOODNESS than in those moments to me. I wanted to be you. I still do. Mom, you showed me what it looked like to trust Jesus NO MATTER WHAT. We can say that, but you were forced to live that. And because of us getting to witness you and how you walk/walked (sometimes crawled) through the dark days of this life we’re living, we can know that trusting Jesus is worth it. It’s not conditional and it’s never empty. You changed eternity, mom. We have all (your kids and grandkids) put our trust in Him…I’d guess my siblings would all say the same thing…because we saw you live it out before our eyes.
You may not remember this, but you said something to me a year or so ago and I haven’t forgotten it. You said:
“You know, when we lost the baby I didn’t think I could ever endure something that hurt that bad. Your dad and i were barely 19 and 20. I was kinda relieved once we’d gotten through it because I felt like we could do anything after surviving it. Like maybe I’d get a pass. And then your dad died. I asked God how He could let this happen…AGAIN. How could I possibly make it this time? And then I looked at you kids and knew I didn’t have a choice. I had to survive because of you. And so, I did whatever I had to do.”
Mom, you are hope. You are strength. You are unconditional love. You are generosity. You are joy. You are fun. You are support. You are help. You are everything I could ever hope to be and all I could ever hope our kids would grow to be.
When I read the part of Jesus’ words to us about being salt and light to the world, I see YOU in every word. He said these words knowing Judith Lynn Wood Hunter Smith would LIVE THEM OUT. Never ever doubt how He’s using you in the life of others…especially us. We are who we are because of you. Thank you, Mom. Happy birthday.
Here’s to 80 more,
Salt and Light – Matthew 5:13-16 (The Message)
13 “Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.
14-16 “Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.