My friend Bob

Has there ever been a time in your life when you were just thankful to be in the right place at the right time to meet someone incredible?

That’s exactly how I feel about my friend Bob. Let me tell you how I met Bob.

I first met Bob back in 1993, when I worked for Woodform Cabinetry. During my year working for Greg and Bryant, I enjoyed the privilege of meeting a lot of fine folks. Bob was one of them. Bob also happens to be Greg’s dad.

After working there almost a year, I left full time work for part time so I could be with my children.

Then, in 2007, as God would weave and work, He led me back to Woodform Cabinetry. Again, I reconnected with Bob. He would come by the office, sometimes to visit Greg. Sometimes to collect kindling or sometimes just to come chat with me. In fact, whatever reason he found to come by, he always found time to pull up a chair and talk to me. Most of the time as he was leaving he would thank me for listening to him.

He was always curious about Ryan and Matthew because, he too, had served in the Marines. He always took opportunities to tell me what he heard about GE and ask if they were true. He was always concerned and curious because he retired from GE. Bob always loved to tell me stories about his life, his family and in particularly, his boys. My was he a proud Dad and granddad, for that matter.

As time went on Bobs health declined and he was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. He kept going but eventually had to give up driving. When that happened, he wasn’t able to come visit the shop as often. Occasionally, he would come by when Mrs. Ann would take him for a haircut. However, he would still call. In fact there were times he would call to have me look up something for him on the computer or he would call just to chat. I would say, “Do you want to talk to Greg?”

He would respond, “No. Just tell him I called.”

Bob was a gentle and kind hearted man, a true servant and 100% reliable. The kind who would stand by his word. The type you could count on.

On Wednesday evening, February 21, God called my friend Bob to his Heavenly Home.

As I was looking for his obituary, I came across this article about my friend Bob. Read here. These are a few of the stories he shared with me. As you can clearly see from the article, my friend Bob was a very unique and special man. He will be dearly missed by his family and friends. I feel truly humbled and blessed to be able to call Bob my friend.

Detours, Circles and Destinations….

We began our day early. Breakfast followed by plans to go see The Natural Bridge See here. We set out on our adventure. Got directions from Siri and followed her route. We were less than 20 minutes away, or so we were told and according to the directive signs along the highway. Siri told us to take a right and Terry missed it. So we turned around at the Pink Cadillac Diner. Followed Siri’s directions and traveled rural streets until we supposedly reached our destination. It was not our destination and much to our dismay we needed to backtrack to the Pink Cadillac Diner to find our way.

Our out of the way mileage was approximately 15 miles, but on rural roads in Virginia, you don’t travel fast. We even came upon a cow out of his fence, walking beside our car.. We finally, after 30 minutes, possibly a little more, of going in a circle, found our destination. It was cloudy and rainy, not pouring rain, but more than a light mist. Inside we talked with the lady at the ticket counter. She told us the cost was $8.00 pp and the walk, if we completed it all was about 2 miles total. Terry looked at me and said, ” You don’t want to do this, do you? It’s raining,”

We had come this far and made a circle to get here. “Yes, I want to go. Besides, I have an umbrella. I’m not bothered by the rain”.

The lady at the ticket counter smiled at me as if to say, “I can see you’re going to have your way today.”

“Besides, you have a raincoat in the car”. I argued.

Reluctantly, he handed the $16 over and went to the car to get his raincoat.

Thus our journey began.

To our surprise and amazement, the more we walked the less it rained. As we neared the cavern, on the other side of the bridge, it began to clear. In fact, by the time we reached the crossover to the Lost River, the sun began to poke its way through the clouds. It turned out to be a perfect day for our visit.

Sometimes in life we have detours and feel like we run in circles. When we finally get to our destination, we may be weary or conditions aren’t as we had hoped. However, we can’t allow the detours or conditions to keep us from moving forward because we may miss the blessing.

A Wave of Emotions

I was totally unprepared for what happened yesterday. Totally caught off-guard but I also know there’s potential for a wave of emotions to flood at any given time. I just didn’t expect it to be yesterday.

As I was driving to Moms yesterday, I was listening to 106.9 (The Light). They were talking about Billy Graham and his humility. In this particular segment, they were talking about the fact that Billy and Muhammad Ali were friends. In fact, Muhammad was invited to Billy’s house in Black Mountain. Muhammad expected to be chauffeured to Billy’s house. That didn’t happen. Billy Graham picked him up in his Oldsmobile. His house was a simple log home, not extravagant like Muhammad Ali expected. Just the true humility Billy Graham displayed, time and time again, caused me to pause and think and cry a little because I realize how shallow I can be times. How superficial my wants and desires truly are. So, I am already emotionally charged.

As I turned down the road I’ve been down thousands of times and entered the driveway to my Mom’s. The garage door opened, the familiar sight of two cars parked in their particular spots. Suddenly, at that moment, all my mind could conceive was, “I want him to be here. I want to walk through the door and see him sitting in his chair. I want him here to celebrate Mom’s birthday.” But he wasn’t there and I knew it. I had to pull myself together before going in. After all, it was Mom’s birthday and I was there to celebrate with her.

Later in the evening, after telling a friend and Terry about my episode, I came to the conclusion that there will be days like today. There’s no rhyme or reason why it hits you suddenly and there’s no preparation. You just have to let the emotions come as they will and know it’s ok. It’s ok to cry. It’s ok to want to see your loved ones again. I think that’s what makes our desire so much stronger for eternity in Heaven because we know that we will never have to say “goodbye” again.

The power of music: using your giftedness for His glory

When I was little, I always loved to hear my Mom sing. Many folks have said, “she has the voice of an angel” or “she sounds like Julie Andrews”. From as far back as I can remember, she sang. She sang in the choir, sang solos and then sang with an ensemble group while we lived in Columbus, NC and then sang with DayStar, the group that Ned was instrumental in starting.

There are a few specific songs, over the years, that really standout when I think about her singing. The first is a medley of “Turn your eyes upon Jesus” and “It took a miracle”. Now, the first song is probably the more familiar song. The chorus line is “Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full is his wonderful face and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace”. This song in particularly deals with the depravity of the weary soul and the recognition that Gods word will not fail and as we learn to gaze upon Him, the things we hold onto will becomes less important as He becomes more important.

The other song may not be as familiar. The first verse of the song and chorus are as follows, “My Father is omnipotent and that you can’t deny. A God of might and miracles ”tis written in the sky. It took a miracle to put the the stars in place. It took a miracle to hang the world in space: But when He saved my soul, cleansed and made me whole, it took a miracle of love and grace”. This song references the almighty power of God. Recognizing He is the creative genius behind everything in this world but also that the His greatest miracle is birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus because that is how our souls are cleansed and set free.

By putting these two songs into a medley, it shows our deepest human needs are met when we rely and trust fix our gaze upon Him. When we do this, we see His might, His power and we know that it truly took a miracle of love and completely underserved grace to set our souls free.

You see, my Mom would need to know and understand these things while she was walking the journey of Melanoma with my dad. She would need these truths to carry her through. She would need these truths to rear three children, two of them rebels. She would need these truths to help administer care to her parents and she desperately needed the truth of these two great Hymns to get her through the past two years.

There is another song, that sticks in my head every time I think of Mom singing. It is “He’s Been Faithful”.Lyrics here. This was a song DayStar had in their program. Mom would open the song by talking about how she had learned God’s faithfulness through the loss of my dad. Again, if you look at the song as whole, it relates specifically to realizing that while we will go through difficulties in our lives His faithfulness to us is always there. He is always there. She has needed the truth of these words over the past three months, like never before. She has needed to see Jesus’ love and faithfulness. Guess what? She has. So have I. I have seen it through the deep love of cherished friends. Friends who go the extra mile for her. I have seen it on full display from Pastor Steve, Wally and precious Jimmy Cobb, who visits my Popaw every week. Yes indeed, she has experienced this firsthand and I have had the privilege of watching it unfold.

Music is powerful. It is effective and it touches and reaches places of the heart that mere words cannot. I am so thankful that God gifted Mom with such an extravagant gift and I’m grateful she used it for His glory. Through the songs she has sung over the years, I see the faithfulness of God in her life. Thank you, Mom, you’re a priceless treasure and a true gift. Happy birthday.

Things that catch us off guard

Continue hanging out with me and we’re likely to discover all kinds of interesting maladies. What if I told you that you could go to sleep and wake up half-blind in one eye with no symptoms as a prerequisite? Trust me. I didn’t know about this condition either, until December 18.

Around 8:00 am the morning of December 18, Terry came groggily into the kitchen, poured a cup of coffee, sat down and said, “I have something in my eye”. After a few minutes of blinking and rubbing, he asked me to look in his eye.

“There’s nothing there”. I told him.

For the remainder of the day, he tried using eye drops, checking in the mirror and trying to blink it out…..nothing.

The next day, the same thing.

On Thursday, he was still complaining, only now he’s telling me, “It feels swollen and I’m only seeing out of the top half of my right eye.” Immediately, I insisted he call Asheville Eye Associates. I know the quality of professionals they have and I don’t trust my eyes to just anyone and felt he should do the same. He didn’t delay. He scheduled an appointment for December 28.

Having discovered the importance, when there’s a potentially serious health issue, I went with him. After about 2 1/2 hours the diagnosis was given. Ischemic optic neuropathy. Essentially what happens is the optic nerve swells and doesn’t allow blood flow to pass properly to the eye. It’s a condition that is more common in people over 50. At first, there was concern of infection and a potential culprit related to a heart condition. However, after blood tests and and echocardiogram, infection and heart problems were ruled out. This was very encouraging to us.

He was scheduled to return in late January; however, there was no improvement and we knew that he would be referred to the Neurological Opthamalogist, Dr. Wiggins. Instead of going through another process only to to be sent to another doctor, Terry opted to schedule with Dr. Wiggins, who is also my doctor. His appointment was scheduled for February 19, with the understanding if any major changes, he would need to call immediately. Fortunately for Terry he had no changes for the worse.

On Monday, we went for his visit, Dr. Wiggins confirmed the diagnosis. He was encouraged because he felt Terry had a very slight improvement in his vision since December. With ION it can take 3-4 for the swelling of the optic nerve to diminish. At that point there is no guarantee that his vision will be restored. It’s possible, not likely. The other issue associated with ION is that there is a 25% chance the same thing will happen to the other eye. The only preventive at this point is keeping his cholesterol, which is hereditary problem he’s had for years, down and also to take an aspirin daily to help improve blood flow.

Fortunately the eye issue has not caused major problems. It has not inhibited him at all. The only thing is he just has to exercise caution on his right side. However, it took us by surprise and was scary because until we got the second opinion, we weren’t certain exactly what to expect.

Interestingly, as I was thinking about this eye disease, I was reminded of how things catch us off guard. We are unprepared for the changes life throws at us. There’s no preparation time, the wind is knocked out of your sails. Times when you’re hardly able to breathe.

The disciples had that same experience.

Look at the following verses from Matthew 8:23-27

23 Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. 24 Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 25 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”

26 He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.

27 The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”

Don’t miss the first part, Jesus got in the boat and the disciples followed him. Jesus didn’t follow them. They followed Him. Then the storm came….unexpectedly, suddenly, no warning and the waves sweeping in the boat. Just like when life catches us off guard. The waves keep pounding. There seems to be no end. And like the disciples, we feel helpless and afraid. Jesus is sleeping. Our cries, our prayers of desperation feel as if they’re bouncing off the walls. Going unheard. Yet, He is completely aware and completely in control. Maybe we, like the disciples, need to recognize our deep need for him to come in a calm the storm or calm us. Because the reality is, sometimes he doesn’t calm the storm, he calms the child in order to walk through the storm.

Our New Adventure….the story of us continues

Don’t feel like you’re the only one who’s not heard, not many have. Only a few selected, who were more on a need to know basis, and those we needed to tell before the news broke, were in the know of what I am about to tell you.

After four years of renting and three years of searching and praying, God opened the door for us to purchase a new home. However, the new home is not in our beloved Hendersonville. It is in Landrum, SC.

Why in the world would we move from Terry’s hometown and my home of 26 years and the place where we raised four children?

First reason, God said “Go”. That’s the primary reason and good enough.

Second reason, the homes and land in our beloved Hendersonville have escalated to an incredibly ridiculous rate. The homes that would be affordable for us would require an additional $50-80k to remodel, which would extend us way beyond our price limit. And with Terry hoping to retire in 3 years, we have to be smart about our choices.

For the past decade or so, we have talked and discussed the option of moving to SC Considering mostly the Greer/Travelers Rest area, mainly because the proximity to Highway 25.

In the past year and half, we made offers on two houses in Greer. I got cold and clammy feet and we backed out of both deals, much to Terry’s disappointment and dismay. I deflated him and his eager optimism. I just knew neither option was right for us. I couldn’t fit a square peg into a round hole.

We’ve always known about Landrum. Heck, I basically grew up here. Lived in Columbus, NC, approximately 8 miles away from Landrum. One of my dearest of friends, Ashley, lives in Landrum and has since she was born. It just wasn’t a consideration or on our radar. Until.

On one of our weekly adventures of house hunting, we drove through Landrum. We knew about the neighborhood here because a lady who purchased one of our homes in Hendersonville moved here. We had been through the neighborhood several times before. This time was different. This house caught my eye.

The first time we walked in, it felt homey. Although it was a new construction. I could see us here. We looked a few more times and made an initial offer. It was accepted. However, we weren’t comfortable with the first lender we chose, I will not mention names but I will say, he was trying to overcharge on interest and fees. We backed out.

Called our friend Gerald, who works for First Citizens Bank in Landrum. We told him of our plans but asked him not divulge our plans because of the uncertainty surrounding them at the time.

Then Ned’s condition worsened and we dropped the whole idea. I actually have the email sent to the agent telling him, “We can’t do anything right now. My dad’s condition has worsened and I am needed here. If the house is still available when he passes, we will most likely pursue it again”.

After Ned died, within about two weeks, Terry noticed the price of the house had dropped below what our initial offer was. He said, “Let’s go look again”.

We did and we prayed. We asked God to lead and guide us. To direct us and make our path clear. He did. We made another offer and it was accepted.

We brought Mom down to show her. She loved the house. Although the thought of us moving caused her anxiety. At times, I think she was feeling like we were just going to abandon her. I had to remind her that I wasn’t moving a world away. Only 15-18 minutes further away than our house in Hendersonville.

As we moved through the process, I never doubted we were doing the right thing. I was unsettled and didn’t want to say anything just in case something fell through or I got cold feet and stopped the process. It had happened previously and I am a woman and emotionally charged at times, all things are subject to change. All things……

In fact one week prior to closing, I had resigned myself to the fact that God was going to stop the process. For weeks, everything had been at a standstill, and knowing full well that we had to close out by the end of January, the envelope was being pushed. Until, Tuesday, January 23 both the lender and lawyer confirmed our closing on January 31.

Suddenly, my heart sank into my chest and anxiety took over. I told Terry every reason I could conjure up why we shouldn’t go through with the move. I cried like a baby. He looked at me and said, “You know if this is going to cause problems for us and you don’t want to do it; I’ll back out now.” The earnest in his voice, coupled with the mere truth that God had been directing our path, quieted my anxious emotions. Then I began telling him all the reasons I knew this was the right thing to do. As I began verbalizing how God led us to this place and how every detail was working itself out, a calm assurance washed over me and I said, “How can I not go where God is leading? I would rather have a little anxiety over the thought of change than not walk in obedience to Him. Been there done that and it’s not a good place.”

So, on January 31, 2018, we closed on our house in Landrum and with the help of family and dear friends, we moved in on Saturday, February 3. It has been hurdle upon hurdle since moving in. I’ve barely been at home three full days. However, as I finish this up today, Terry and I are sitting on our quaint screened porch, sipping coffee, listening to the birds sing and I know I am home.

In the book Paul A Man of Grit and Grace, Charles Swindoll writes the following:

A little about my Hero

I know a man who has given his whole being for the good of others. He is one of the most selfless people I have ever been around. His joy comes to see other happy. That’s always been his chief aim. I’ve never met an individual like him and I’m quite certain I never will again.

His countenance displays joy and peace. His life reflects the joy of the Lord. His smile illuminates the room and just sitting his presence blessings abound. My husband says frequently, “If you don’t like Troy, you’ve got serious problems”

Who is Troy? Troy is my grandfather, commonly referred to as “my Popaw”. What makes him so special and unique? The choices he’s made in life.

On any given day of sporting events when asked who he’s rooting for, his answer, no matter who’s playing, “The underdog. The team that’s losing”. He has a heart for the downtrodden, for the weak, for the homeless, for anyone who needs a little extra help. He wants to see them have an opportunity to succeed. It’s just how he rolls.

As a young boy, Popaw made choice to follow the Lord. He has never wavered. At 16 years of age, he married my grandmother. He loved her through life and never wavered. He became her caregiver for almost ten years. He grew weary towards the end, but he never wavered in his care for his bride. Once moved to assisted living, he visited her everyday, except a few times when he was sick. He never complained and always thankful for the care she received there.

He loves and adores his two daughters more than anything. He’s always been there for them. Always ready, willing and able to do anything he could for them. The past two years, through Ned’s illness, he expressed to me several times how difficult it was for him not being able to help and really be there for Mom. Honestly, his existence has been a blessing and help to us all.

His grandchildren he doted on since day one. There’s never been three children anymore loved and adored than me, my sister and brother. Both he and my grandmother always made us feel like the sun rose and set in us. He still makes me feel that way When I see his sweet face light up as I enter his room and he says. “Honey, it’s so good to see you. It’s always good just to be with you”.

And then there are his great grandchildren and there are just no words to describe the vast love he has for them. He is always concerned over their well-being. He is constantly asking about their safety and he is consistently telling me how much he misses those little rascals.

Clearly he is a family man.

When I think of the fruit of the spirt

I can’t help but think of Popaw. His life is the embodiment of these things. Every characteristic I have seen on display I his life. And I find myself thankful and humbled. Thankful that I have been given such a powerful witness of a man in my life and humbled because I realize, I have a very long way to see all these attributes displayed in my life. Truth is, I may never get there because I am not always prone to making wise choices, like Popaw. I have a “prone to wandering” heart.

Popaw has staid his course and run his race with great vigor and endurance! He is a living example of a life well-lived.

Popaw is my hero!

19 years and counting

Today just seems like the appropriate day to get this blog started.  On this day, 19 years ago God blessed us with a 7lb 9oz baby girl, Amy Grace.  That very same day, God spared my life and gave me a new lease on life.  Let me explain.

Two days prior to Amy’s birth, I looked like a beached whale.  I was waddling like a duck and hadn’t slept in two weeks.  She wasn’t due for another two weeks.  I took Terry with me to by OB appointment for both moral support and to keep me from flooding the doctors office with tears.  Fortunately, Dr. Oldham saw my misery and said, “Ok.  You can either come in on Thursday the 12th or Friday the 13th and we will induce.”  Without hesitation Terry spoke up and said, “We’ll take the 12th because I don’t like the idea of having a baby on Friday the 13th.”

Upon leaving the office, I was elated.  “Only two more days of misery, ” I thought to myself, “I can deal with two days.”

We were up early on the 12th. We made our way to the hospital and at 7:00 the Pitocin drip began.  Didn’t take long for contractions to begin and by 1:45, I was 5cm dilated and contractions were steady, actually it seemed as if they were increasing not only in strength but frequency by the minute.  Around 2:15 when they checked me again, I was 8cm dilated. They called down for an epidural, but by the time it reached the room, there was no time.  By 2:35 pm, I was fully dilated and delivering.  We were elated our baby girl had arrived. We knew ahead of time the baby was a girl.  We just hadn’t told anyone, except one dear friend, mainly because I didn’t believe the ultrasound.

Our room quickly filled with family and friends to greet this new little life.  Within about 30 minutes of her delivery, I began to feel odd and had a weird painful sensation in my abdominal area.  The nurse insisted it was my uterus contracting but I said, “I don’t think so.  This is my fourth child and I’ve never had this sensation before.”  She did nothing.

Fortunately, my friends Ashley and Bryon showed up.  She came in the room and said, “You don’t look good.  What’s wrong?”  I told her about my abdominal pain and she immediately went to the nurses station and told them to get some help because my color wasn’t good.

As soon as the doctor came in and examined me, blood gushed out.  It actually felt like a chain link fence was coming out of me.  Horrified, she began packing me to stop the bleeding.  For the next few minutes, I felt almost normal and then it happened again.  This time, she packed me again, but due to the significant loss of blood, a call to have blood delivered for a transfusion was necessary.  As soon as the blood arrived, I’m guessing I looked so bad and had lost so much blood, Dr. Arcara was literally screaming at the nurse, “Squeeze the damn bag or I will.”

After a third time of packing and no control over the bleeding, it was determined I would have to have emergency surgery.  They had no idea what they would find.  I remember vaguely her asking me if I could sign the release for them if a hysterectomy was necessary.

Due to the seriousness of the bleeding, Dr. Oldham was also called in to assist Dr. Arcara. The next thing I remember is waking up to the sound of Dr. Zahn’s (the anesthesiologist) saying, “You look like Stay Puft the marshmallow man.  We had to pump you full of fluids.  You’re lucky to be alive.”

The next day, Friday the 13th, Dr. Oldham came by for rounds and said, “You had Victoria and I scared to death.  We’ve never experienced anything like that in our careers.  What happened was your cervix ripped over an artery and blood was just pumping out into your body. If not for her quick decision to do surgery, we wouldn’t have found it.  Also, they told me that during delivery, Amy had a true knot in her umbilical cord and it’s probable that if you had gone another two weeks, as she grew the knot would’ve gotten tighter and quite possibly taken her life.”

I don’t know about you but knowing that God provided, not one, but two miracles of life in a day for our family makes me feel truly blessed and humbled.  I stand in awe and wonder of his miracles and I realize that I would not be here without His grace and mercy.  My story could’ve ended on February 12, 1998 but God had bigger plans for me.  He choose to keep me here to tell my story and it is all for His glory.