Through Sickness and in Health

For those of you who don’t follow me anywhere but here, my dad, Ned Whitmire was called home at 2:00 AM on Sunday.

I have many stories to tell about his last few weeks. However, this is a powerful display of what I’ve witnessed from my Mom for the past 19 months.

She has selflessly given herself to making sure Ned was well loved and taken care of. She has a true Servants Heart.

Ned’s former coworker Amber Cox watched and observed these events unfold!

I spoke the other day about serving your spouse. This is what prompted it. This is a testimony right here folks. I was visiting with Ned Whitmire and Kelly was speaking with the doctor. Ann reached over and felt Ned’s feet. In her sweet voice, Let’s get you some socks, Honey. I handed her the socks and was getting ready to offer to do it. I blinked and here she was in the floor doing it. Fearful and tired here is this woman in the floor doing this simple thing. It meant so much to me to see how Ned has been cared for his entire life with Ann. She could’ve gotten Kelly or me to do it. The nurses at Elizabeth House would have gladly done it. But she did it.

This is in sickness and health and for better or worse, ya’ll. I came home and told Jason I was so thankful to be married to someone just like this.

What an example Ann Whitmire is to all of us. World crumbling around her and she still isn’t thinking of herself.

“A good woman is hard to find, and worth far more than diamonds. Her husband trusts her without reserve, and never has reason to regret it. Never spiteful, she treats him generously all her life long. She shops around for the best yarns and cottons, and enjoys knitting and sewing. She’s like a trading ship that sails to faraway places and brings back exotic surprises. She’s up before dawn, preparing breakfast for her family and organizing her day. She looks over a field and buys it, then, with money she’s put aside, plants a garden. First thing in the morning, she dresses for work, rolls up her sleeves, eager to get started. She senses the worth of her work, is in no hurry to call it quits for the day. She’s skilled in the crafts of home and hearth, diligent in homemaking. She’s quick to assist anyone in need, reaches out to help the poor. She doesn’t worry about her family when it snows; their winter clothes are all mended and ready to wear. She makes her own clothing, and dresses in colorful linens and silks. Her husband is greatly respected when he deliberates with the city fathers. She designs gowns and sells them, brings the sweaters she knits to the dress shops. Her clothes are well-made and elegant, and she always faces tomorrow with a smile. When she speaks she has something worthwhile to say, and she always says it kindly. She keeps an eye on everyone in her household, and keeps them all busy and productive. Her children respect and bless her; her husband joins in with words of praise: “Many women have done wonderful things, but you’ve outclassed them all!” Charm can mislead and beauty soon fades. The woman to be admired and praised is the woman who lives in the Fear-of- GOD. Give her everything she deserves! Festoon her life with praises!”

‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭31:10-31‬ ‭MSG‬‬

Learning to feast in yesterday’s joy

If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time or know me personally, then you are well aware that my dad is fighting lung cancer.

The past few months have been challenging, both mentally and physically. There have been many ups and downs. Sadly, more downs that ups but as I’ve learned there’s always joy…..even in the hard difficult days.

Last Thursday, Ned was moved from Pardee Hospital to the Elizabeth House and placed under Hospice Care.

Over the past few days, there have been ups and downs but relatively decent days. Decent days are the ones where we see progress.

The Hospice doctors have worked diligently to get his nausea and pain under control. They’ve eliminated a lot of his medications, which in turn, have helped his symptoms.

Tuesday I walked in and was astonished and amazed. Ned was eating, talking, laughing and joking. He was weak but he felt good. It was an amazing sight, to say the least.

However, with this battle that his body is fighting, I’ve learned to keep my plans loose and flexible. A last minute call can change the course of my day in a split second.

At 9:10 Wednesday morning, my Mom called. As she was on her way to the Elizabeth House, she received a call from the doctor. Ned, at some point last night started having trouble breathing. He was having such a hard time, they had to load him up on morphine, to calm him and do breathing treatments. Needless to say, Mom asked if I could come because she wanted me to talk to the doctor. I was happy to go!

It wasn’t easy to go knowing full well that I wouldn’t be walking into the same room I did Tuesday. It doesn’t matter that I’ve seen him this way before. It hurts. It makes me sad. It hurts because I know deep, deep down he wants to feel better. He wants to have the yesterday back. Honestly, I want the yesterday back. That’s not reality.

Once gone it can never come again. It makes me think of when he and Mom were first married. He would pull out his guitar and sing “Yesterday” by the Beetles. First line of the song, “Yesterday. All my troubles seemed so far away. Now it seems as though they’re here to stay. Oh, I believe in yesterday.”

I think if we’re honest, a lot of us yearn and long for yesterday. What I’ve learned through all of the ups and downs, especially with Ned’s illness is most times the “good” yesterdays give enough hope and power to get through the today. It’s truly all about the perspective.

A dear precious friend of my parents sent me an email last week with this great little nugget of truth attached.

“The trials of the Journey will be lost in the joy of the Feast” Max Lucado

You see, if we look for joy even in the horribly terrible hard days, the good days will be your feast. The ones you hold out for, the ones you hope for and the ones that give you joy to continue the journey.

I’m learning to feast…..

Deep Roots

Have you ever just listened to nature? Have you ever just fixed your eyes on the things in nature? Is there one thing that sticks out in your mind? Have you ever just stopped, breathed and pondered?

For me it’s always this particular tree. It stands on the bank adjacent to a magnificent park. Falls Park on Reedy in Greenville, SC. I simply cannot go through this park without seeing this tree. Obviously, others are mesmerized by it as well. Folks are consisting “oohing and ahhing”, taking photos with friends and family or like me, standing back and grabbing a picture of its root system.

What is that draws me to this tree? It reminds me of the importance of having a good root system to hold you in place. When I look at the roots over roots, it also reminds me of how we need to cover ourselves. The roots over roots ground the tree.

Primarily why this tree fascinates me is because I see so much of my life depicted in this root system. I see struggles. I see struggles on the inside and outside. I see a strong desire to stay grounded but as the roots overlap it reminds me of how frequently I mess up and I need a covering of God’s grace. I see an unrelenting ground that gives this tree it’s ability to stand. The roots go deep. They have to.

So, let me ask you. Is your root system grounded? Does it struggle to remain attached? The ground hasn’t moved. God, himself, is immovable. Maybe you have moved or strayed away. Just like some of the roots. Maybe you need a good covering of God’s grace. Maybe you feel like your past failures and mistakes make you unworthy. They don’t. God’s desire is to pour a heaping helping of grace and mercy on you.

Don’t allow your past to define you. Allow the presence of God and his great mercy and grace to supply everything you need for today.

Dig deep into him. It’s there you will find comfort, peace and rest.

“And he shall be like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields fruit in its season, and whose leaf does not wither, and whatever he does shall prosper”. Psalm 1:3

“Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.” Colossians 2:7

Come Closer

One evening in July, Terry and I decided to go hangout and have dinner at Bold Rock in Mills River. We heard they had a great food truck and often had music.

Fortunately, the midsummer night had a hint of cool, which begged us to stay outdoors.

A young family, also enjoying the perfect summer night were out on the lawn. They had two little boys. A babe and toddler probably 2 or 2 1//2. Since there wasn’t a slew of folks outside, the youngster had room to run and play. As he would near the fence line, the dad would call him back. This happened a time or town. The. about the third time the little boy neared the fence, turned around and said, “Daddy, I’m coming closer so I can see your eyes.”

As I’ve replayed that evening, I’ve had several thoughts. First, the child learned the boundary lines as the father called him back the first few times. He would go close to the fence line but he would never cross it. He was safe within the boundary.

Second, once he got comfortable within the boundary lines, he didn’t push the envelope to go outside. Instead, he would reassure his daddy that he was ok and that by coming closer he could see his fathers eyes. Not only was this safety for him but also reassured his father that he was obeying.

Interestingly, as the child would reassure his father, the dad was already coming towards him, just in case he decided to cross over or through the fence.

As the scene continues to replay in my mind, I am reminded that we are like the little boy and God is the Father. He gives us safe boundaries to live and move within. When we get too close to danger, He calls us back. It’s our choice to come back. It’s our choice to say, “Daddy, I’m coming closer so I can see your eyes.” Sometimes, unlike the little fella, we even cross the boundary lines. But reassured He is already running towards us long before we ever come back to Him.

In the story of the “Prodigal Son” we see this action of love on full display. When the father found out the wayward son had returned this was his response in Luke 15:21-24 The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.


Considering my past and the poor choices I made, I always marvel at how great God’s love is for me!

The Highest of Highs and the Lowest of Lows

Talk about a flurry of emotions yesterday. This one picture brought back everything from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows.

The day was Friday October 9, 2015. Early that morning I received a phone call from my friend Ashley. She was delivering the news we all knew but didn’t want to hear. There was nothing more the doctors could do for our friend Gary. His time on earth was drawing to a close.

I couldn’t even get mascara on because every time I started tears would flow. It was difficult to get ready that morning. I had to pick myself up because I had a mission. I had to go find shoes for Amy.

I collected my thoughts and got myself together. Combed every shoe store and department in Spartanburg, until I finally found a pair of shoes Amy agreed to! The funny part is that after 2 1/2 hours of shopping, the shoes didn’t work and we ended up returning them.

Anyway, I left myself time to run by the hospital to see Gary. It was a sad day for all of us! We had all hoped beyond all hope that he would recover.

That evening, Amy was crowned Homecoming Queen. I remember thinking, “Wow, God! Only you could take the blow off my otherwise hard day.”

Now, two years later that picture represents so much more. Truthfully, it was about the time that Ned started to cough. Chances are the lung cancer was already there. We just didn’t know it.

Amy was so eager to get out of her dress that Mom and Ned missed the photo-op with the dress and crown. Graciously, she put the crown back on but wasn’t about to change her clothes. The best part and I didn’t even catch it until yesterday was that she had her “Nitro” shirt on. This shirt was their HHS FCA shirts. Oddly enough, Nitro is the name Terry gave Ned years ago.

The urban dictionary defines Nitro the following way:

Ask: Describes a person, place or thing as being unequivocally, quintessentially spectacular and dumbfounding.

Without a doubt he has lived up to his name. He is very memorable. If you’ve ever met him; you’ll never forget him and he is definitely one of those folks who can leave you leave you astonished and amazed. You never quite know what he will say or what he will do!

I am just reminded by this picture how much can happen in the course of two years. It reminds me to not take things or people for granted. It reminds me that relationships are much more important that things. It also reminds me that even on the darkest of days, there is always light, hope and joy!


The Day She Thought She Could Fly

This is my precious Mamaw. Today is her birthday and she would’ve been 92! However, God called her home seven years ago. She joyfully went!

That’s the thing about her. She was always full of laughter and her laughter was highly contagious. She could laugh at anything and sometimes everything

Her biggest challenge was worry. Sometimes I would even accuse her of worrying thugs into existence. She literally did! Often times saying, “Honey, I just can’t help myself.”

She loved to tell stories. A true gift of storytelling, she had. We loved her stories, especially the ones she dubbed, “The old tim

Of those “old day” stories this one is by far my favorites. There was a character named Ms. Moodle and her dog named Poodle. Her personality and traits similar to that of Mary Poppins. She flew with an umbrella in one hand and her Poodle and purse in the other. My grandmother was fascinated by her adventurous spirit.

One day Mamaw decided that she was tired of her birthing life and needed to adventure far away.   So, she packed a few belongings in her purse, grabbed her umbrella and climbed on the flat roof of their house. Her brother stood below. She waved goodbye assuring him she’d be back some day, opened the umbrella and jumped. She hit the ground with an enormous thud and her brother laughing uncontrollably.

She learned very quickly that an umbrella won’t make you fly.  But I’ll let you in on a little secret, on the day God called her home she soared.

Happy birthday dear Mamaw.  Know you’re  eating the piece of cake with the most icing today.

The Day Everything Changed

This is my friend Gary. We go back a long way. Met at Tryon High School when we were 14 and Freshmen, ready to set the world on fire

Gary and I always had a unique friendship. We had a lot of common ground. In particularly, we both loved taking active roles in clubs and community. We both loved debate. Gary had a big personality. Magnetic. Charismatic.  The person everyone enjoyed being around.  If you were lucky enough to know Gary, you’re lucky enough.

After high school graduation, Gary and I kept loosely in touch until he moved to Simpsonville, SC in the early 2000’s. I can’t remember how we reconnected but he would, on occasion, meet me for lunch, with my kids, when I would take them to their Pediatric Dentist in Greenville.

Then he moved to the Raleigh area. Again, we kept in touch loosely but then tragedy happened. Both of Gary’s parents were killed in a car accident. After their deaths, Gary made the choice to come back home and help his sister run the family business. He sold his home. Packed his belongings and came back to Columbus, NC.

This is where our longtime friendship grew again. Terry and I would occasionally have Gary up to eat with us. Then I got a crazy hair-brained idea that we should start a dinner club with other local friends. We did. About once every 8-10 weeks, we would meet at local restaurants or each other’s homes.


Then two years ago in late August I received a call from Monica, Gary’s wife. Gary had been admitted to the hospital earlier in the week and things didn’t look good for my friend. Without hesitation, I immediately went to Spartanburg Regional to see what was going on. Upon arrival, it was evident that my friend was in great distress. In fact, doctors weren’t certain he would live through the night. He did. Thus began an almost 7 weeks roller coaster of ups and downs.
During Gary’s hospitalization several friends volunteered to sit with him on a regular basis. This gave Monica a reprieve and also allowed her some time to work or get other necessities taken care of. Gary was not always joyful when I would show up. Mostly because there were times when my Terry mentality kicked into high gear and I didn’t shy away from confronting him on some pertinent issues.
One of the hardest conversations we was over the death of his parents. This was a real turning point for him. I asked him if he was angry with God and I asked him if he had ever grieved the loss! His answer to both did not shock me. “Yes, I am angry with God. No, I never had time to grieve.”
I knew and understood what that felt like. I was even able to tell him my story and how God had finally set me free from the bondage of anger that raged within me.
After that conversation, several days passed before I saw him again.
The next time I walked into his room, everything changed. His attitude. His countenance. His outlook. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt what I was seeing. But having an inquiring mind, means you ask the question. “Gary, you did it, didn’t you? You finally forgave God. You finally gave your heart to Jesus.”
A sweet smile spread across his face and a simple, “Yes!”, flowed from his mouth. In that moment, I knew for sure that no matter the outcome of Gary’s situation, everything was going to ok.
Gary’s life on earth ended a few weeks later and on that day Gary’s life in heaven began. The best part is I will see my friend again.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeith in him should  not perish, but have everlasting life”  John 3:16