The gift of laughter

The person who can bring the spirit of the laughter in the room is indeed blessed.” Bennett Cerf

It’s obvious is you watch my video posts that I am not the comedian in our relationship. Terry is. He’s witty and that’s what attracted me to him when we first met.

In fact, the first time he came for dinner, he spent the better part of 30 minutes telling my mom and sister that his parents served in the Armed forces in Korea and that’s why they chose Kim for his middle name. He had them convinced! I finally had to call his bluff.

When Mom and I worked for Barker Construction, she answered the phones. He would call and change his voice. Pretending to be a customer or vendor and at the right moment, when he knew he had fooled her, would start howling with laughter. I heard her from the other room laughing and saying, “Terry, you crazy thing, you!”

He’s just downright funny. He can’t help himself and it comes out naturally. You never know when it’s gonna happen either. He even laughs at himself. Just kills me and makes me laugh that much more.

I’m pretty much the opposite. I have very little wit and I am not funny. I just like to laugh and others seem to follow suit. I’m not a “Debbie downer”, I’m just a little more serious minded and can’t think of quick retorts. I’m one of those that come up with things weeks later. However, every once in awhile it happens for me. Something will just roll off my tongue and I surprise myself. Indeed, I’ve been around Terry way too long.

So, the other evening, after our date we stopped by the Fresh Market to pick up a few things. About half way home, I remembered I needed contact lens solution. I told Terry to turn around because we weren’t that far from Walgreens. He looked at me and said, ” And where is Walgreens?”

I replied, “On the corner of happy and healthy, of course!”

He didn’t laugh. He didn’t even utter as much as a soft chuckle.

Shocked that he wasn’t laughing, I said, “Really dude? You didn’t even laugh at that. That was funny.”

“I wasn’t thinking about what you said, I was just thinking about where I needed to go!” He replied

Needless to say, the past few days he’s had to endure hardship over not laughing at what I said.

And what say you? Funny or not funny. Now, I know good and well I can’t come up with a slam sandwich or Jethro Bodine Calmpett sandwich. I can’t put a cowboy hat on my head and start dancing around and singing. I can’t serenade him before the church service begins. I can’t drape a towel over m arm and pretend to be a waiter at some fancy restaurant. But when I say something funny, he should laugh.

Proverbs 15:13 A joyful heart makes a cheerful face, but with a heartache comes depression.

Endless Summer Nights

Yesterday I drove to East Fork Baptist church to spend a little time with family, celebrating the recent marriage of Andy and Cassie.

On the way, the winding road always leads me to familiar places and reminds me of days gone by.

For years before the Rosman Highway was a four lane, it was easier to take Country Club Road, which intersects with Island Ford Road. The trip seemed endless. It’s really not that far but when you’re going to Grandma and Grandpa’s and your little heart is full of excitement and anticipation of romping around the property and playing with cousins. Well, it just takes forever.

I found a marker. A big red barn situated almost at the corner of County Club and Island Ford. I knew when we arrived at the big red barn, Grandma’s was a few short minutes away. Eagerness and anticipation most often overtook my body and I could hardly wait to grab the door handle, fling the door wide open and run up the stairs.

What was so special about going to Grandma’s? The people, of course. Aunts, Uncles and cousins galore. A real family affair. Also, the food. If Reese is your last name then it’s synonymous with food. We like to eat.

While the adults were doing boring things like talking and catching up and preparing the smorgasbord or food, the kids, if you were old enough, were outside playing. Kick ball. Tag. Red rover. Mother may I, and the list goes on….

My favorite memories are the lazy, long, hot summer days when we would go for dinner and stay until dark. No one ever got in a hurry to leave, giving us kids ample opportunity to scheme and devise plans to either stay with Grandma or stay with each other. It was simply the best of times.

Once we moved from Pisgah Forest to Columbus, NC, we weren’t able to go as often. It was never quite the same. How I treasure those endless summer nights at Grandma and Grandpas. The little rock house still stands today and every time I pass by, I am reminded of the joy and delight of days gone by.

A crazy idea

Ever had someone present a crazy idea and ask you to be a part of it?  In December 2012 Ned announced that he would be planning a 35th Anniversary shindig for he and my mom.  A surprise shindig for her.  Stunned at his announcement, I thought, “Who does this?”

Ned, that’s who.  When I questioned his sanity, he simply stated, “Well, I doubt we will be around for 50, so I want to do it now.”  Fair enough.

This all came about after Ned successfully battled prostate cancer and had received a clean bill of health.  In fact, after his diagnosis and recovery, he did a lot stuff with great intentionality and fervency.

As with everything, he planned, Kristi and I helped.  He’s an avid planner and sees everything through to completion.  No stone was left unturned.

Fortunately, both Ryan and Matthew had leave and both were in Charleston, at the time. My brother and his son, Zach, were also able to make the trip from their home in Eugene, Oregon.  It was a family affair.

The event turned out beautifully.  They renewed their vows with all of their family and a multitude of friends.  A blessed occasion.

Little did I know at the time how special that event would be for me.  I still thought it was a little hair brained and crazy.

Now, here I sit four years later to tell you, that day has been etched in my memory for life.  You see, I didn’t know at the time what God knew.

First of all, last March, Ned was diagnosed with Stage IV Lung Cancer.  The initial diagnosis was bleak.  No chemo and he might live 4 months.  Chemo would give him 9-15 months life expectancy.  Suffice to say, he is now almost 17 months after being diagnosed and he’s still with us.

Secondly, it would be the last time my family of 6 would be in the same place, at the same time.  Yep, that’s right.  My two older boys have not seen one another in 4 years.

The anniversary took place in June and at the end of July, Ryan would be transferred to Groton, Connecticut to serve on the USS Pittsburgh.  Within about a month of his arrival, he was already doing short “under ways” in preparation for a 6 month deployment.  In the meantime, Matthew would remain in Charleston for the next 1 1/2 before being transferred to Hawaii.

Folks, let me tell you.  I am proud to have two boys serving our country but it’s hard on families.  Time and distance, coupled with little or no communication, makes it difficult. If it’s difficult for me as a mom, think of the wives and children affected.

What at first seemed to be a crazy idea was one of the very best things Ned has ever done. I am grateful and thankful for his persistence in following through with the celebration!

Just as it should be…

It’s hard to believe that just nine years ago we were a family of six. Amy and I were totally outnumbered, just a whole bunch of boys.

In August of 2008, we loaded up two SUV’s and headed off to USC (South Carolina) to drop Ryan off for his first year of college. So much excitement but so much sadness. My firstborn. The one I had spent countless hours taking to while in the womb. The one I walked through the house pointing out anything and everything I could to him. The one I read to over and over and over again, until he turned three and discovered TV. The one whose blue eyes melted my heart every time I looked at them. The one God used to get me over myself. He was leaving. My heart knew it was time but the Momma in me wanted to keep him a little longer.

We adjusted. The dynamics changed for sure. Then we were five.

After Ryan’s freshman year, he decided not to go back. College was not for him. Once again, we were back to six.

Then it happened. June of 2010. We dropped Matthew off at the Navy Recruiting center in Asheville. Said our goodbyes and a few days later received his box of civilian clothes, including his cell phone. No cellphones allowed.  That was the hardest part.  Getting his belongings and not knowing how long it would be until I heard from him.

Now we’re back to five but that too was short lived. The week after Matthew’s graduation from Basic, we would be dropping Ryan off for Basic training.

Just like that our family of six quickly became a family of four. Talk about change in dynamics and a challenge. It was hard. Those boys had been with me longer than Terry had. They were my life before Terry and I really hadn’t prepared for how it would feel to be without them. I didn’t know how to cook for four people. I didn’t even know how to do laundry for four. Everything changed.

Unlike with dropping your child off at college. You don’t know when you’ll hear from them. During Basic they only get to call a couple of times. Mostly they write letter. If time permits.

We made it through. Got accustomed to the new norm. Life kept moving.

Then last year we took our youngest to college. The only girl. To say it was hard for me is an understatement. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. It wasn’t because we were each other’s best friends. We’re not. I’m the Queen.  She’s the Princess. She just kept me constantly on the go. There was always something going on with her. Not to mention, she’s the only girl and she’s my baby. It was a harsh awakening to realize that eighteen years had flown by so quickly.

Then we became a family of three only because Alex’s choice to remain home work and attend Blue Ridge Community College.

Now, here we are. One week away from our fourth child flying the coup. Leaving the nest. Sprouting his own wings to fly.

How do I feel? Excited. Elated. Proud. Oh, without a doubt I will miss him. He has been a delight and joy. I have watched him grow into a strong and very mature young adult. I have seen his strength and faith exemplified through the untimely death of his friend Derrick. I have seen him balance work and school and finish on the Dean’s List. In his eyes, I see the excitement and anticipation of this next chapter of life, and I hear it in his voice.

I refuse to pretend that I won’t shed a tear or fifty but he is so ready and I am so ready for him to fly.

Soon and very soon, a week to be exact. Our family of three will become a family of two. Just as is should be.

The War Within

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above. —Robinson

The war within is so strong it's like the ocean current that just pulls you out away from the shore. Gently at first but the tugging keeps on until you realize you're about to the point of no return!

It's a wrestling of the will and flesh , the heart and the soul ! The will wrestles with the flesh to do the right thing, while the flesh argues and presses the heart to be wicked and deceitful, and the soul , deep deep down where the spirit resides, keeps saying. "No no no! It's not right it's not good and nothing good will come from it. Let it go! Let it be! "

Then the gentle, yet passionately stern voice speaks, through His word, " I made you for better things that this. I made you so that you can experience Me and my joy and pleasure because it far exceeds anything that you can fathom. Why do you move away from me? Why do wander? Come close to me and I will draw close to you. I can help you. My footing is sound and solid."

And so you move back towards the safety of the shore. It's still a struggle. The strife is real. The current of evil still tugs at your heart, your soul and you mind. Little by little your pull against the current, until you can feel the ocean floor. The current still pulls against you but the closer you get to the shore, the less violent the pull is.

Finally, you're back on steady ground. You can walk to safety and it feels good. Only there'll be a next time., if you're like me, I am always prone to wander. Always prone to leave the God I love. Always struggling with the war within. It's only by grace and mercy that I win any of these battles. That is His goodness towards me and this goodness has a name Jesus! He my hope and stay!

Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.”
Romans 7:25 NLT