No Words

Have you ever been without words? Believe it or not, I’ve been there a time or two. I mean you can’t even muster a thought and put words together? There’s nothing you can say because there’s really nothing to say.

At that moment do you try to say something cliche? Do you conjure up words in your mind that aren’t coming from the heart? To be honest, that’s what I try to do. I feel like I need to give them something.

But can I just tell you, I had absolutely no words? No words that were even cliche or soothing. The only words that spilled from my mouth were, “I don’t understand why but I know God is Sovereign and all I can do is pray. That’s literally all I can do.”

At that moment, what I realized is that my mouth didn’t overrun my heart. (It happens frequently). My heart was truly aching for my friend but I didn’t understand, nor did I pretend to understand, the depth of her feelings. If you haven’t walked through what another person is walking through you don’t understand and it’s simply not wise to say you do. Nor is it wise to give the pat and cliche phrases. It does not benefit either of you. Empty words without heart are purely meaningless.

Most people have really good intentions and they want to say words of comfort but sometimes the best comfort is no words at all.

What’s important to understand is that people’s response to hardships all differ. We must take into account that things from their past may affect how they feel about and react to current situations. And unless you are privy to that information there is no possible way for you to begin to get into their psyche and understand.

Why is it that we feel so compelled to say something?

I know for me, personally, I just want to be an encouragement. And so I try to find encouraging words, but when the words don’t come, I need to realize and recognize that words are sometimes not necessary. Sometimes it’s simply the act of being there, being available and giving a listening ear that means more than words!

Colossians 4:6” Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.”

Disappointments

Have you ever been disappointed? You’ve wanted something for so long and finally, you get it, only it’s not exactly what you expected. However, later on, it becomes crystal clear that the exact thing you wanted wasn’t what you needed and that thing you got was exactly the perfect thing.

“I want a dog”. If I heard it once I heard it a thousand times. “But Daddy, please.”

“Amy, I am not going to get a dog until you get older. I am not raising two babies at once.”

Oh, don’t feel bad for her. She had an ample share of cats. In fact, all of her journal entries in First through Third grades either included a story about one of her cats or her friend, Hannah, and sometimes both. I’m not exaggerating. I read those darn things about two years ago and laughed until I cried.

Finally, Terry told her that when we got a house with a bigger yard she could have her dog. And let me tell you, she didn’t forget.

As soon as we moved to our house with over an acre of property, the begging kicked into overdrive. She was determined to wear him down.

She didn’t and refused to relent because he had a plan. Not really, but let’s just pretend he did.

Christmas was drawing near and Amy started chirping again about a dog.

Oh, I forgot to mention. Amy wanted a big dog. A German Shepherd was her preference but any big dog would do. When she was little and would petition for a dog she would often say, “I want a big dog like Clifford the big red dog!”

Well, it just so happened that Alex, Amy and I ended up at the local pet store in Hendersonville a few days prior to Christmas. We saw and held several breeds of dogs and I took pictures and sent them to Terry.

My favorite was the Bichon. I was particularly fond of this breed because not only were they cute little white balls of puff, resembling cotton, with coal-black noses and big round black eyes but the best part was they were hyper-allergenic and don’t shed! But I also knew Terry would make the final decision. Trust me when I say I pleaded my case to the max for this dog.

I’ve written about how Sammy was chosen. Read Here

Anyway, so Terry picked him out and gave him his name. We took him home on the evening of December 24, 2008. We somehow managed, with the help of Mom, Ned, Ryan and Matthew to keep the dog quiet until Amy and Mom got into bed.

Amy’s room was directly over Ryan and Matthew’s room. They were responsible for his care and keeping him as quiet as they possibly could. The only snafu was locking him in his crate. He whined incessantly until they took him out. Apparently, his cries were loud enough for Amy to hear because she kept tapping my Mom and saying, “Mawmaw, do you hear that? I hear a dog. Don’t you hear it? I’m getting a dog for Christmas!”

Mom said Amy continued to try her best to pry it out of her. Mom had to turn over and pretend to be asleep. I really don’t know how she did it without laughing at Amy’s persistence. This is my very relentless child who doesn’t give in or up easily.

Finally, Amy drifted off to sleep. However, I don’t think Ryan got any sleep and Matthew had very little. Sammy kept them awake.

Christmas morning came. Terry had decided that Sammy would be the last gift of the day. So, we kept him in his crate in the basement and I think the boys put a towel over the crate to dissolve some of the noise.

Finally, after the last present was unwrapped, Terry snuck downstairs and got the puppy. Amy was in the living room and Terry put him down on the other side of the wall and let him walk around.

“See, Mawmaw, I knew I heard a puppy last night. I told you I was getting a puppy.” She picked him up and loved on him a bit but then her disappointment surfaced, “He’s cute but I wanted a German Shepherd!”

Sammy just wasn’t what she expected. She was disappointed. Fortunately, her disappointment didn’t overshadow Christmas Day.

For years, she would mention not getting a big dog and then one day, not too long ago, she said, “You know, I’ve realized that Sammy has been the perfect choice for me and our family.”

Now, let me go back to the original question: have you ever been disappointed? I want to take it a bit further. Have you ever been disappointed because God hasn’t given you what you asked for? Maybe He didn’t come through when you expected but He did come through. Maybe you didn’t get the promotion when you thought and knew you had earned it but eventually, the promotion came. Maybe he didn’t give you the job you wanted but He provided a job. Maybe He didn’t heal your loved one on earth but gave them the ultimate healing in Heaven. I don’t know what has disappointed you. I know there have been many times in my life I’ve been disappointed.

However, what I’ve come to realize is that disappointments are part of life. Life is not a whimsical merry go round and singing “Kumbaya” around the campfire. Life is hard and sometimes it hurts. Sometimes it doesn’t feel fair and sometimes it doesn’t feel good. But can I tell you what I’ve learned? Just because He doesn’t answer in the time and the way we think He should does not mean that He is not good. On the contrary, only a good, loving and wise father gives his children what is best for them. In the same way that Terry knew Sammy would be the best fit for the family.

Matthew 7:11. “If you, then, though, you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!”

Celebrating 25 years-Day 2

Yesterday we took to the streets again. We were hoping to finish up Christmas shopping but nothing hopped off the racks and into our hands. We tried. Believe me!

I even went into several boutiques to try and find unique gifts. The only thing I ran across was this tea towel and I didn’t think Amy would appreciate it

At least not yet, so I didn’t buy it.

For brunch, we decided to give Virginia’s on King a try. Partly because Terry saw fried chicken and biscuit on the menu.

Yes, Terry did chose the chicken biscuit and I opted for the farmer’s omelet. And true to my southern roots, I always have grits when I’m in Charleston. Both dishes were lovely and we left happy and full.

After visiting with our oldest son, Ryan, seeing his new home and briefly petting his skittish cat, Faye, we headed back downtown.

I wanted a rooftop experience and we noticed that the Pavilion had scores of heaters so we knew we would not be too cold. We ventured up and were not disappointed with the view. (Terry was disappointed with the cost of a bottle of beer. I told him we went up there for the experience. He agreed.)

If you look closely at the pic you will see a boat with Christmas lights. Boats decked out in festive lights and parade around Waterfront Park.

We ended our evening dining at Fleet Landing with our son, Ryan. Again, we’ve eaten here multiple times, not every trip but close. This is why I can highly recommend eating here. The food is always consistent and good and we’ve always had excellent service.

My half-eaten plate of blackened triggerfish with grits and asparagus. Yummy goodness.

I recommend that you use the Open Table App and make a reservation.

A perfect ending to another lovely day. Anytime we get to spend time with our older boys is a very good day.

Celebrating 25 years -Day 1

Yesterday was the beginning of our celebration of 25 years. It is a little early but not by much. Our trip to Charleston could not have been any wetter and I am so glad Terry was driving and not me. It poured buckets the whole three hour journey!

We had the opportunity to stop by and visit with our son, Matthew before he left for work.

For the first part of our journey, we are staying at the Hampton Inn Charleston-Historic District It’s actually right across the street from Embassy Suites where we normally stay. The primary reason I chose this hotel is because the beds at Hampton Inns are generally more comfortable and firm than at Embassy Suites. We’ve stayed enough between the two Hilton brands to know this is a fact. We prefer the amenities of Embassy, especially the cooked to order breakfast but sometimes it’s about sleep over amenities!

Fortunately by the time we checked in around 2:30, the rain had mostly stopped. A few sprinkles here and there but no more downpours.

If you know anything about us and Charleston, the reason we stay downtown is because we love to walk, or “hoof it” as Terry would say.

We began our journey at the corner of Hutson and King Street. Normally we always go left on King Street but we decided to go right. We’ve learned that while most of the shopping is left on King, the restaurants are to the right and we needed a little snack.

Chances are we walked about a mile until we decided to crossover and check out the restaurants on the other side. After stopping at least half a dozen times, combing through menus we finally decided to go to Ink N Ivy.

Our waiter, Jimmy, had the best disposition and the sweetest smile. He’s a recent college graduate and is planning to go to law school. In conversation, we told him that we were in Charleston celebrating our 25th anniversary. Before we finished our snack, the manger greeted us with a lovely piece of Chocolate Creme de menthe cake in celebration of our anniversary.

The picture doesn’t really do it justice. Trust me, it was delicious and well worth the extra calories. (Anyway, if you’re ever in Charleston it’s definitely a must to eat. And if you’re a Brussel sprout like me, you’ll love theirs. This was not our first rodeo here and most assuredly won’t be our last)

We had to walk off our little snack so we set our feet in motion down King Street to the shops. Along the way we found this store. Of course we couldn’t by pass a chance for Terry to get in the festive Christmas spirit with an ugly Christmas sweater.

Now that you see his Highness in full array, don’t you want to go get your own ugly sweater?

After walking over three miles, we finally ended up at one of our all-time faves. Pearlz . For some reason, every single time we visit Charleston we wind up here. The consistency of good quality food and service brings us back. We even talked to several locals last night who are regulars for the same reason we flock there. Here’s how they serve up the shrimp cocktail.

Adorable isn’t it?

Finally after good food we hoofed back the almost three mile journey to our hotel.

We must’ve been exhausted from all the walking of the day because we both crashed as soon as our heads hit the pillow.

A perfect ending to a fun start of our anniversary celebration.

Risk and Reward- Our Story Continued

There’s a picture that hangs now on the wall in our guest bathroom. It has traveled for many years and houses with us. It hardly works with any of our decors but it’s such a part of our story, I will not part with it.

This picture is of the 13th hole at Augusta National called Azalea. It’s the first picture we bought together as a couple and we actually purchased it on our honeymoon almost 25 years ago.

This isn’t the exact picture we have but close to it. It’s interesting to me that it’s the first picture we purchased as a couple and here’s why!

  • I wasn’t keen on golf. I didn’t understand why anyone would want to spend hours chasing a little white ball around.
  • It represented the first major conflict we had as a couple before we were married
  • I was no good at it.

So, why in the world would I go along with Terry and choose that picture. To be honest, I liked it. Something about the colors of the azaleas in full bloom contrasting with the white sand bunkers and lush, meticulously manicured bent grass drew me in and I wanted it as much as Terry. I don’t remember exactly what we paid for it but I do remember it was on sale!

I’ve done a little research to learn that this particular hole on Augusta National is one that is considered one of the greatest risk-reward holes in golf. It’s also considered one of the easiest holes on Augusta National because now most pros can reach the green in two shots giving them an opportunity to possibly eagle the hole or at least make birdie. However, the key is a good tee shot and a good second shot. If the tee shot isn’t good, golfers have a chance to make up for it with their second shot, but placement on the green will require strategy and careful consideration. Even the pros can putt the ball right off the green into Rae’s Creek, the tributary that protects the green. Just ask Tiger Woods. A poor second shot can land you in Rae’s Creek. However, for many golfers who play this hole under par, there is no reward without taking a risk.

I find it very interesting that we would have chosen such a beautiful depiction of what God would do in and through us over the past almost 25 years.

For both of us to love and trust again was risky. In some ways, I think Terry took a much bigger risk than I did because he chose to take on the responsibility of not one but three of us. He risked a lot to marry me. He also willingly gave up a lot to marry me.

Because of the deep wounds from my past, my risk was giving my heart fully to him. It was a choice that I had to make. I had to learn to trust him and this was not easy for me! It didn’t happen overnight and it wasn’t instant and complete trust when we did get married. It developed over time.

It’s also interesting to me like mistakes on the hole can leave you in a place you don’t want to be. Mistakes in marriage can also land you on unfamiliar territory and you have to carefully consider how to make your next shot better. But if that next shot lands you in the water, you simply take a stroke penalty and continue play. You don’t give up until the ball goes in the hole. But there are times when you get it right and it’s truly a remarkable feat.

Folks, I can tell you that our marriage is no picture book fairytale. Oh, but being determined to pick up each other’s faults and failures and love each other no matter what has been the best risk with an ever so great reward!

There’s rarely a time when there’s not a risk involved in a reward. There will be times of failures, setbacks, disappointments but its just deciding if the risk is really worth the reward.

The Empty Chair

Happy Thanksgiving to all of our family and friends.

Last year I began writing this and today God allowed me to finish it. I believe He reserved it in particularly for this day and this year. I know the empty chair well. We have been acquainted for many years and while I still feel it’s emptiness in various forms. I know many of you have felt it too. And if you haven’t already you will. Here’s what the empty chair has taught me.

The Empty Chair

Do you have an empty chair this year? Maybe a loved one is no longer there. Maybe a child is unable to come home. Maybe a spouse has left for greener pastures. Maybe you have to share children with the other parent. Whatever the reason, the chair that was once filled with the presence of a physical body now is empty.

While laughter and endless chatter may fill the room, the emptiness of the chair looms. Regardless of whether you’re participating in the company of others, you still feel it’s emptiness. You can’t shake the feeling of longing for the chair to be filled. Not filled by another, but filled with the one who is gone.

The truth is the empty chair is hard, no matter if it’s temporary or permanent, it’s a reminder of what was and is no longer. Time changes things. It’s inevitable. But how we react to or view the empty chair is our choice.

It’s okay to feel the emptiness left by the missing one but it’s not okay to allow the weight of the emptiness to steal the joy of being with those who are still present. You see, if you mourn too much for the empty chair you miss being present with those who are still with you. And who knows but God who may vacate another chair next year.

Our Story Continued…. First Official Date

I don’t think I’ll soon forget our first official date. It happened about two weeks after we met.

I was excited and nervous all at the same time. I wasn’t sure where we were going but I knew that I had to do one of the following.

  • If I ordered a big plate of food, I needed to eat all of it
  • Or I could order a salad and eat all of it

Here’s why I knew this. Prior to our official first date, Terry had already shared with me about things that bothered him about taking women out was wasting food. He didn’t care as much about the cost as the wastefulness. And if I haven’t clearly established, Terry loves to eat and is not wasteful. In fact, he’s more like a human garbage disposal. (Oh, to be this way and maintain such a great boyish figure).

And just a side note: Our son Alex is just like him!

Anyway, he picked me up and told me we were going to Applebee’s So, back in the day, it was the place to go. Besides, I think it was a test to see what I would order and how much I would eat. (He didn’t realize that my maiden name “Reese” is synonymous with food. We Reese people can throw down)

Anyway, because Applebee’s was the happening place, back in the day, we had to wait about 40 minutes to be seated. Once we were seated, Terry ordered an appetizer. Couldn’t tell you what it was but I certainly helped him eat it. I don’t recall what we ordered for our dinner but I do know that I didn’t order a cheap meal and I remember him saying, “Are you going to eat all of that?”

I told him I would give it my best shot. Little did he know that his comment inspired me to eat my entire plateful.

Our plates were empty when we were offered dessert, I opted for the brownie for us to share. Needless to say, I held my own with the brownie too!

Shocked and awed by the end of dinner, he proclaimed, “Well, I see you can eat!”

Apparently, it didn’t scare him off because he continued to take me out and eventually asked me to marry him. 😊

For more of our story start here: How we met

I’m Not Living Past 92

What if I told you that when Popaw was around 87, he predicted that he would die at age 92, would you believe me? It’s true. He did. One thing to note about my grandfather he was a very practical and logical thinker.

One day while visiting him at his house he made the following statement. ”Well, the way I see it I won’t live past 92.” Of course, inquiring minds have to know the reason behind the statement. So, I asked, ”Popaw, why do you think you’ll die at 92?”

”My grandfather and great grandfather both died at 92. I suppose if my Dad had not killed himself at 85, he would’ve lived that long too.”

So, at age 90, he suffered a massive heart attack, we should not have been surprised that he made a full recovery. Albeit, he was not happy he had been resuscitated. However, he was happy when he got well enough to leave the skilled care nursing facility and return home assisted living facility. Read here

Then at age 91 1/2, he became deathly ill, and literally stopped breathing at one point, wound up in Hospice Care for a period of time and then graduated out because he was doing so well. Again, we should not have been surprised. He wasn’t because he would frequently say, “Well, I’m ready to go but God’s not ready for me.”

He turned 92 on October 14, 2018. He had ongoing issues but overall remained relatively healthy. Until around the first of January. Mom and I both noticed he wasn’t going down to eat dinner with his friends as much. He would often say that he had little to no energy.

Several times he wound up in the ER dehydrated and eventually ended up back under the umbrella of Hospice Care. But on the morning of April 17, 2019, when I received the call from the Hospice nurse telling me he had a stroke and essentially spelling out for me that based on her observations he was likely in the final stages, I had no doubt that this time would be his time. And it was, on April 23, 2019, at age 92 1/2 my grandfather passed peacefully from this life and into his heavenly home.

Sometimes I wonder if God gave Popaw the foreknowledge to know that by year 92, he would have his place ready? One of the questions I failed to ask! Or was it just his logical, practical mindset that led him to believe that he would die at 92?

Here’s what I know! Regardless of if he knew for certain or he was just making an educated guess, I believe it’s what drove him to do his very best with the time he had left. I also believe it gave him the will to keep going when he would miss Mamaw. Often times he would say to me, “Honey, I miss Colleen more and more every day and I can hardly wait to see her again.”

Sometimes, I do think that God may have given him a little foretaste and foreknowledge of what was to come for him and you want to know why, because my Popaw was a man who not only talked of God, he walked with God.

He always said the best decision he ever made in his life was to give his heart to God and the second best decision was marrying Colleen!

The best decision I made was spending time with him.

The Stolen Magazine

Do you know you don’t have to show children how to misbehave or be selfish? It’s embedded in their thinking as soon as they’re born. Yes, really!

I certainly was no exception, just ask my Mama. She’ll tell you! I was horribly difficult and hard. Full of sass and of myself, just ask her. If she tells you differently, she’s just trying to be nice and she’s not telling the truth.

I mean any child who would hold their breath until they pass out has issues and I certainly had my share and in truth, I still do.

Anyway, I vividly remember going to the drug store in downtown Brevard one afternoon. I cannot remember why we went, I just remember the magazine rack was calling me the minute I walked in. I was a huge fan of Sesame Street and there it was staring me right in the face. A Sesame Street magazine. Full of entertaining articles and games. It beckoned me. I took it off the shelf and decided that I needed to take it home with me. Sadly, Mom didn’t agree and told me to put it back. It wasn’t that easy. In my mind, it was already going home with me and so I clung to it for dear life as Meanwhile, Mom kept telling me to put it back.

Then I did the unthinkable, she turned her back and I slid the magazine under my shirt. Oh, I knew what I was doing was wrong but I was going to have that magazine one way or the other. If she wouldn’t buy it, I would take it. Besides, they had several and wouldn’t miss just one.

Surprisingly, I made it all the way home with the magazine. I carefully placed it on the floorboard. After we got home, I ventured back out to the car to retrieve my magazine. Apparently, Mom thought I was acting slightly sneaky or sly and so she came out the door just in time to see me with my stolen magazine. She was mortified, to put it mildly.

“Kelly Annette, is that the magazine from the Drug Store?” (You always know when the full name comes out it’s never going to end well)

“Yes.”

“I didn’t buy it for you which means you stole it. You took something that didn’t belong to you. I am so disappointed in you.”

She fumed a bit more and then finally said, “You and I are going right back to the Drug Store and you are going to take the magazine back and apologize for taking it.”

I think I have purposefully forgotten the ride back to the Drug Store, probably a good thing.

Mom was so embarrassed by my behavior but she marched me right back into the store and then she made me stand there and notify the sales clerk of my wrongdoing. Now, I was the one who felt embarrassed. I knew I had done wrong when I did it but now I had to come face to face with my crime and it didn’t feel good.

Needless to say, I learned my lesson about shoplifting.

When I think back on that day, I am reminded of a few things.

First, I wanted something so badly I took matters into my own hands and I did something wrong to get something I wanted. I justified my actions by reasoning that one wouldn’t be missed. And it makes me wonder, how many times since then I’ve tried to justify my actions or behavior.

Secondly, Mom made me take responsibility for my actions. Did I want to apologize and take it back? Not at first, I really wanted to keep it even though. I knew it was wrong. But because Mom insisted that I do the right thing, I had to take responsibility for myself. At the time, it may not have seemed like a big deal but later in life, I’ve had many opportunities to take responsibility and ask for mercy. I also learned there’s more shame in not taking ownership of bad choices than admitting my mistakes.

Third, I learned a valuable lesson in doing the right thing even when it hurts. Initially, I didn’t feel remorse for taking the magazine. In fact, my apology and admission of a crime, at the time, was very forced and not heartfelt. However, over time, I did feel sorry for taking the magazine. I began to realize the predicament I had caused Mom and myself. It took a long time for her to trust me in a store again and I don’t know if she ever took me back to the Drug Store again.

In truth, if Mom had not made me do the right thing, I don’t know if I would strive to do the right thing today. Parents, teach your children. Train them to take responsibility for their actions. Teach them hard lessons but love them through it.

Fall Giveaway

I am giving away two copies of the book It’s Not Suppose To Be This Way by Lysa Terkuest. To be entered you read Here and leave a comment on the blog. Drawing will be tonight.

Note: THIS IS A SELF-SPONSPORED GIVEAWAY