Most of you who will read this know the birthday girl pretty well, but for those of you who don’t, she knows everyone on the planet so there are throngs of people who could write books about this special gal. But for a few minutes, you are stuck with me, my perspective, my experiences, my completely biased opinion on my friend TJ.
Almost 10 years ago on a weekend retreat, I met her best friend from high school, Heather. After only a few hours with her, she said, “You have GOT to meet my friend Tonya. You two would just love each other.” (Incidentally, you can always tell from what stage of life someone knows her: “Tonya” high school and before and “TJ” college and beyond.) Heather’s mother in law, Mary Ellen, set up a lunch date at Great American Subs on Camp Bowie. For those of you who know TJ, you remember when you met her for the first time--- unpretentious, big white smile, focused brown eyes, and laughter that spills out easily. I left lunch feeling as if I had known her all my life and that is how
we carried on from there. I had a new friend.
TJ and I both have brothers so we know what it means to tease and to be teased, so I am hoping Trey, Chris and Luke did their job well and conditioned her to grin as she reads the rest of this! If she doesn’t..............guys, it ALL your fault.
She’s bossy. Just the other day, we were headed somewhere with a few friends. My plan was to sit in the back giving her the front. I was settled IN the seat with all my stuff around my feet (a trick I learned from her). She exercised her “I have been a mother longer than you” voice telling me she was sitting in the back and my determination evaporated. The next thing I knew I was robotically moving to the front and giving her the back seat. I think she even moved my feet companions for me. Oh and when eating out with her don’t go to the restroom before the waitress takes your order. When you return, she may have already ordered your meal for you---one to share with her.
She gets around. I can’t say I have ever been with her ANYWHERE that she has not happened up on someone she knew. This person may be from Spanish class in high school, from college years at Baylor,
from her Kanakuk days, some random girl she met at the park 10 years ago, someone from time served in the college ministry at Christ Chapel, from her parent’s work or church, or HER former preschool teacher’s husband’s mother’s sister. It is mind boggling. I am convinced if we ever get to make a trip to my obscure hometown in South Georgia, she will run into someone she knows.
She’s nosey. You’ve been in a conversation with her only to find that when you walk off or
hang up, you know nothing more about her but she knows all about you whether you had planned on it or not. That first day I met her I remember telling her my life story, and leaving knowing only that I really liked her, nothing more. I’ve seen her perform this bait and switch on close friends and countless unsuspecting bystanders. (I’m on to you, girl. It’s taken me 9 years, but I am on to you.)
She’s a know it all. You know what I am talking about. She’s a
wealth of information. We need a TJ Hotline, don’t we? I will never forget when Julia was born in Louisiana and TJ had a newborn of her own (boy #2). I bet I called her a bazillion times with silly questions like, “Can I give her a pacifier?” or “She’s crying before nap time is over. Should I pick her up?” (Mind you, Julia is only hours old.) She answered EVERY phone call, validated all my absurd questions and gave me great advice. I honestly think this was a crossroads for her as far as a friendship with me goes. If I were her, I don’t know that I would have hung in there. Two and a half years later, she gave me the crash course in “potty training in a day” while on my 15 minute drive home from Walgreens and it worked! However, I think her most valuable counsel comes when she speaks of relationships. I may get solid advice from personal experience or the sound of her voice reading a Psalm over the phone.
She’s a busy body. Now those couple of words say a lot. First thoughts: She knows what is going on in the lives of the people she cares about. This takes a lot of energy. It may manifest in a quick phone call or email to check on something she knows I am working on, to see how an activity or meeting went or to check on how someone is I am concerned about. It may be a note to one of my children telling them how proud she is of an accomplishment. It might even be my favorite Starbucks drink at my front door to spur me on in a new endeavor. Almost eight years ago, she made the trip all the way to Shreveport just to check out our new baby girl, saving Julia from forever being scarred by a car seat incident. Second thought: She is the mother of FOUR darling kiddos. Her body is busy. I would be in a padded cell donning a straight jacket if I had to keep the schedule she keeps. The pace is not always easy for her, but she gives herself to it without grumbling or complaining. (Well, 99% of the time. Remember, she’s amazing, not perfect.)
She’s chatty. How I thank God for this! I have been in so many situations with her that I have just not had it in me to carry the conversation in the group. She can always do it, do it well and actually enjoy it! I, however, stare, listen and marvel at her. A couple of years ago, she was my sidekick of confidence when I spoke at a luncheon in San Antonio. When my mind was reeling with “What in the world am I doing here?” and “They should have asked TJ to do this”, she was cool as a cucumber talking for the both of us. She’s the one you want at a dinner of strangers, a small party, in a just plain awkward situation or anywhere for that matter. This alone is worth keeping her around.
She’s a mother hen. Few people love their family the way this girl does. It is inspiring and refreshing to any who get to watch her up close or from a distance. Before I had children, I remember thinking how easy she made this mother-thing look. I knew it wasn’t but I wanted to move through it as seamlessly as she did. Her methods and her devotion are well worth emulating. She gives herself to mothering Branson, Hudson, Basden and Esther wholeheartedly and it is lovely in every way. I am eagerly waiting on a book penned by TJ on her paramount investment of motherhood.
And just a few more things.......She likes to draw attention to herself in ways like wearing T-shirts that say things like, “I love my husband.” She’s self-absorbed in the sense that she examines herself continuously, desiring to stay in the will of her Father. It could be something as small as what she will consume that day or something as significant as how her children will be educated year by year. She’s my kind of fashionista hunting for a Ross or TJ Maxx in cities like San Francisco and Chicago. We have “twinkie” clothes in our closets-by accident, of course- and do our darndest not to show up at the same place with them on. She’s an interrupter when it comes to someone making self-deprecating remarks. She infuses the air with encouragement.......ALWAYS. She is also quick to use her delicate skill of interrupting if the topic of conversation begins to go south.
Well, that's about it, for now. The day I met her at Great American Subs, yes, I had a new friend but I had no idea what a treasure she would be to me. I thank God for making sure our paths crossed, and crossed and crossed and keep crossing. She's stuck with me.
Okay, girl. I am done. Happy Birthday! Knowing Corbin, he's probably got you a slot for sipping extra hot decaf hazelnut mistos with Belle, Cinderella and Snow White in the castle's parlor complete with wedding style cake and ice cream and candles that shoot off fireworks after Tinkerbell flies in and lights them with her sparkly wand!