Why Their Standards Are Set So High

Yesterday we had the opportunity to celebrate the marriage of Blaire and Hunter. Blaire and Amy have been friends since elementary school. Like Amy, we have had the privilege of watching Blaire grow into a beautiful young woman.

It occurred to me yesterday that this is a new season of life for us. Our children’s friends are now getting married and having babies. And you know what that means, my kids are all old enough to get married too.

Before the wedding, I said to Terry, ”You know this could be Amy in a few years”

He said, ”Don’t rush it. She’s got plenty of time.”

Considering all of our children are now old enough to be married, and are not, I have to ask myself the question ”why?”

First of all, maybe it’s because Terry has told them forever, ”Don’t get married before you’re 30!” Ryan will be 30 in December.

Second, until recently the older two haven’t really had time for relationships and they all have very high standards. Besides, it’s difficult to get married when you don’t have a significant other. 😊

So that begs a different question, ”Why are their standards so high?”

I believe there are three very good reasons.

The first reason is because of the display of love and devotion they witnessed through watching MaMaw and Popaw. They saw what it looks like for a man to love and devote himself to a woman. They also saw how she adored and loved him. They observed how he tenderly provided care for her for ten years prior to her moving into an assisted living facility. They saw love in rare form.

Next, they watched and observed how Mom and Ned loved each other. They listened in as they would sometimes get on each other’s nerves but then would kiss and make up. They watched and observers how Mom took such great care of Ned as his health declined. They saw how his love for her propelled and fueled his desire to get better. He loved her with every fiber of his being and she loved him back in the same way.

Third, and maybe most importantly, these kids of mine have had on display for almost 25 years, the way a man should love a woman. Terry has taught the boys to respect women and he’s taught Amy she’s worthy of respect. He’s taught them that even through hard times, you love, you laugh, you cry and then you do it all again. You never give up and you never give in. He’s taught them the value of commitment. He’s taught them perseverance and determination. He’s taught them not to settle but to look for Gods best.

So on this Fathers Day, I am rejoicing in the legacy left behind by two great men, and I am most thankful to celebrate my man today. He is God’s gift to me and our four children.

Value Life and Be Thankful

February 12, 1998 is always a day of reflection for me. For whatever time I have left on this earth it always will be. If you haven’t been following along and need a refresher. Read here

For the past few days, I’ve truly been mulling over the fact that God in His great mercy saw fit to spare my life that day. Now, here I am twenty-one years later and I still am amazed by His great love for me. I am also grateful that He chose me to love and be a Mom to all four of my children, not that I did it right. It’s just the one thing in life that I always felt a strong calling to do.

I remember the first steps each of my children took because I was with them. I recall their first words. Only one out of the four said, ‘Momma” first, and I can promise you it wasn’t the Princess. I was there when they got hurt and needed stitches. When they broke arms, wrists, and legs. I was there when their little hearts were broken. I watched as they learned to ride bikes, hit golf balls, throw things, play tennis, catch a football, play basketball, play piano, violin, and drums.

Like I said before, I didn’t always get the parenting thing right. I messed up. I yelled when I should’ve spoken kindly. I threatened without following through. I complained about the messes they made. I was more concerned about how my house looked than I was about spending time with my children. I was more concerned with their behavior than I was about their hearts.

To be honest, by the time I realized how much I messed up, Ryan and Matthew were almost grownup and out of the house. Seriously. Fortunately, I had a little more time with Alex and Amy.

Here’s the point. God had a choice to take me or leave me. He left me here. He wasn’t finished with me and I am grateful.

Do you realize that as long as there is life in you, God can use you? Sometimes, I think we get so hyper-focused on life and all of life’s stuff, we forget that we have a greater purpose. A greater calling. Our purpose is, like Jesus displayed in his time on earth, to bring glory to the Father

When we choose to value life and be thankful for the breath in our lungs, we realize how blessed we are.

One of my current favorite songs speaks to this very thing.

Great Are You Lord

You give life, You are love
You bring light to the darkness
You give hope, You restore
Every heart that is broken
Great are You, Lord
It’s Your breath in our lungs
So we pour out our praise
We pour out our praise
It’s Your breath in our lungs
So we pour out our praise to You only……..

Listen Here

That was my ”Today”

Brad Paisleys, Today, is probably one of the best songs ever written and sung. It’s such a great reminder that if we can hold on to special memories today, those memories are what will get us through tomorrow.

And I don’t know about tomorrow 
Right now the whole world feels right 
And the memory of a day like today 
Can get you through the rest of your life.

I’ll eventually get back to our Lexington trip but I keep mulling this post over and over again. I know from previous experience when these thoughts don’t go by the wayside, I am supposed to do something about it and so I’ll write.

It was the most gut-wrenching day of my adult life. The moment when the Hospice Doctor tells me, you need to call the family in. ”Ned’s time is short. I don’t know if he’ll be here more than 3-4 days.”

Just to clarify, I asked, ”So, you’re telling me that I need to call my sister to come back and I need to try to get my brother here from Oregon and any of the grandchildren that can come?”

”Yes, and I wouldn’t linger.”

I graciously thanked him and called Kristi. Call one. Check.

Knowing full well that David would unlikely be up a little before 6 his time, I called anyway. I held firm and didn’t get shakey with my words. ”You need to make arrangements to get here ASAP! And please call Zach and let him know.” Call two. Done.

Breathe. Focus. Breathe……reality set in. I had to call my children. All of a sudden, like a tidal wave, I collapsed screaming and crying into Terry’s lap. ”I can’t do this. This is too hard. I can’t call the kids and tell them their Papaw is dying. I can’t. I just can’t.” The weight of it all finally took its toll.

Gently rubbing my back, he said, ”It’s ok. I’ll call them.” I cried harder. I ugly cried. Every ounce of what I’d been holding back was now gaining momentum and no matter how I tried, it wouldn’t stop until it all filtered out. When it was over, I dried my tear-stained eyes, blew my nose and announced with all the confidence I could muster, ”No, it’s something I need to do. I’ll call them.”

The first call was to Ryan. I knew he was working and I wasn’t about to leave a message of such magnitude. I just left a message asking him to return my call.

Next up was Alex. Keep in mind. Matthew was deployed. I would later have to contact him through the Red Cross. Alex had just seen Ned a few days before. He wasn’t shocked or surprised but he was quiet. Knowing he had classes, I tried hard to keep things as upbeat as possible. He would be home tomorrow and that was good enough.

In between, calls, Ryan called me back. He knew. I didn’t have to tell him. I did anyway. Sometimes, its just good to give reality a voice. Hard. But good. Immediately, he asked, ”Mom, are you okay? I know all of this has been hard on you.”

Tears fell as I assured him I was okay. Truthfully, I was okay. His sensitivity made me cry a little.

Finally, I called Amy. There’s never a good time or a good way to do these things. I knew her schedule and she was finishing up classes and would be heading to track practice. With every ounce of strength, I could round up, I said, ”Amy, they’ve only given your Papaw a few days to live. You’re gonna need to come home.” Silence. Dead Silence.

Sniffling she said, ”Mom, I’m crying and everyone is seeing me cry cause I’m walking in the courtyard. I’ll have to call you back. I can’t talk right now.”

It wasn’t long until she called me back and I could tell she’d still been crying, ”Mom, when I told Cale (her coach), he told me to skip practice and come home.”

I pleaded with her to be careful.

An hour and a half later, she arrived. Safe and sound.

It’s what transpires within the next hour or so that touches my heart in ways I cannot even begin to describe.

Amy’s main focus was to attend to her Papaw. He was still coherent but wasn’t talking much. A few words here and there. A nod of the head. Maybe a smile or two. She asked him if he wanted some ice cream. He nodded and she took the spoon and began feeding him. She would ask, “Papaw, do you want another bite and he would nod.” After a little while, he threw his hand up for her to stop and clamped his lips together, indicating that he was done. No more.

Sweetly she leaned close to him and said, ”See Papaw, I can feed you just like you fed me when I was little.”

So, if I’d had a lot of tears left in me at that point, I would’ve been balling like a baby. What a tender and precious moment my baby girl had just experienced with her Papaw.

As it would turn out, Amy fed her Papaw the last meal he ate. It would be a memory etched in our minds forever. A precious memory.

It makes me so grateful for the early morning hard because, at the end of the day, God gave us such a great gift. The gift of His perfect timing and placing us at the right time and place. I think today, that’s what He wants me to remember and He wants me to tell you, His ways are always perfect. He is always on time and His goodness abounds in rich mercy and grace.

Field Trips with Terry, Part 4

Here’s a little video of us after leaving Watson Pavilion. As you can see, it was a dreary, wet and cold day but I am so glad we decided not to allow the conditions of the day to stop us from adventuring together.

In a later blog, I will continue about our trip and add another video or two.

https://vimeo.com/32702971

Sometimes in life, we allow the circumstances or conditions of the day to keep us at a standstill. We allow our emotions to dictate what we do or even how we react. The reality is the choice us ours. We can live as a victim or we can live as a victor. Sometimes, it is just putting ”one foot in front of the other” and walking out the door. Our hope rests not on what is but on what is yet to come!

”But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord, Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:57

Field Trips with Terry, Part 3

Our next stop, Watson Pavilion, which houses more ceramics, a Japanese Tea Room and portraits of the Washington-Custis-Lee Collection. They were working on a new exhibit so we found ourselves in the portrait gallery. I was reading about the people in the portraits while Terry was looking.

One of the stories the guide had shared previously was about Martha Dandridge, who would later become Martha Custis, and then Martha Washington. Apparently, Daniel Parke Custis struggled to find a suitable wife or at least one his father would approve for him to marry. That is until he fell in love with Martha Dandridge. Considering he was one of the wealthiest men in Colonial Virginia, Martha was lucky to receive the approval of Daniels father, John.

Daniel and Martha had four children in their seven years of marriage but only two of the four survived into adulthood. In 1757, Daniel died. He died without a will, Martha and the two surviving children were granted one third each. Daniel’s death made Martha one of the wealthiest women in Virginia.

It is believed that George knew both Daniel and Martha prior to his death. George and Martha were married a little over a year after Daniel’s death. Although they never had children of their own, George and Martha raised her two children and would later raise their grandchildren as well.

Anyway, as we were gawking at the paintings, I said to Terry, ”Look, Daniel was quite a plumpy little man. Maybe Martha just married him for his money. He’s not a looker.

Terry’s response to me, ”Well, he must’ve married Martha because of her big boobs!. Just look how big they look in the portrait. I mean, you can’t help but notice. Maybe that’s what ole George was thinking too.”

Honestly, it’s a wonder we didn’t get kicked out because I swear, I howled. Up until that point it was so quiet a mouse could be running the floors, you know, library quiet, and it was a dang good thing they weren’t hosting a Japenese Tea party. Oh, my, we had to get out. We were disturbing the peace and I really don’t think it was appreciated 😂

Y’all this is the crazy live with day after day and I tell you, it’s like a very fine wine and gets better and better with time.

Field Trips with Terry, Part 2

Before exiting the Lee Chapel, we were told about two other buildings on campus we should visit, The Reeves Center and Watson Pavilion.

In the Reeves Center, you will.find the Reeves Collection. The collection is a vast array of ceramics made in Asia, Europe and the Amercias. Some.pieces date back to the 1500s.

In their collection are pieces of this china used by George and Martha Washington. This particular collection was only used during his Presidency.

Also in the collection is this bowl This punch bowl was made in China. Its painting tells the story of trade during the 1800s. It’s truly a magnificently detailed piece.

That’s not exactly what caught my attention as much as what our guide said. ”Do you know that many hands made and painted this bowl? It was not made or painted by one set of hands.”

I just have to stop and say, I’ve considered and mulled over that statement for almost a month now. It had quite a profound impact on me.

My initial thoughts, ”Wow! How awesome that many hands made such an exquisite piece of artwork. It’s so intricately designed.” I pondered on that formed while.

Then the lightbulb switched off and on again. This time I wasn’t thinking about the many hands that made the punch bowl. I found myself thinking about the same hands that made the folks who made the punch bowl are the same hands that fashioned me.

Stay with me on this.

God is the creator of all humankind. “Then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” Genesis 2:7

The very same God who formed Adam formed me and you. I don’t know about you but that makes me feel special, exquisite, unique.

God could have used his angels to make us. He could have used many hands, just like they did with the pottery. That’s not what he did. No, no no. He used the same hands to form and make us all.

His hands.

The beauty is that we are all different. We are all unique. There are no two humans on the earth that are exactly the same, not even identical twins. And yet, we are all made by the same pair of hands.

The Divine hands of the Father.

Field Trips with Terry, Part 1

A few weeks ago, Terry and I made another trip to Lexington, VA. While we didn’t have quite the adventure of driving in circles Read here like we did last year, it’s never without adventure. In fact, life with Terry is an adventure. It’s just how we roll.

Considering the weather was quite the norm we’ve been accustomed to this winter, cold, rainy, and yucky., we didn’t want to stay cooped up in our hotel until Amy’s track meet began. So, we decided to make a visit to the Lee Chapel https://www.wlu.edu/lee-chapel-and-museum. Terry is very fond of Robert E Lee and wanted to learn more and I love history.

Interestingly, it was Robert E Lee, as President of Washington University, who saw the need and had a vision for this chapel. As the number of students began to grow at what was then called, he saw and increased the need for a building to house the student body in one location for worship and assembly. The construction completed in 1868, and the same day it was inaugurated, commencement services were also held in Lee Chapel.

They held chapel on a daily basis and it is said that Lee attended every day and sat here.

A

After chapel, Lee would then retire to his office in the lower section of the building. According to our guide, this is precisely how Lee left his office. She said the only thing different is the carpet and the tablecloth, everything is just as he left it before his death in 1870.

We were not allowed to use the flash inside the building and this is about the best I could do with my phone. My favorite piece in his office is this one.

As I was commenting on the details of this exquisite piece of furniture, talking with my hands and I often do, I apparently got too close to the alarm. Set the darn thing off and the sweet lady I was talking with said, ”You’re a little too close. You’ll have to back up.” Never thought my talking arms could cause such a raucous. Terry snickered and acted as if nothing happened, Didn’t matter much anyway because we were the only ones there.

Upon Lee’s death on October 12, 1970, he was buried in the basement of the Lee Chapel.

There are many other pieces of history we discovered in just a few hours timeframe, and I will be sharing more along with pictures and maybe, just maybe, I’ll throw in a Terry video.

I Am One Of Those

“Oh, you’re one of those!” my friend exclaimed as she watched me withdraw my hand from hovering over her cooktop. Cackles from the other women in the room with us told me, they too, understood what my friend was saying.

Let me give the full context of what happened. We were at our friend’s lake house for a weekend with about fifteen other couples. Several, at least seven of us women, were in the kitchen preparing the meal. I noticed the light remained on the cooktop after my friend turned it off. In fact, I kept watching for it to go off. At the time, I wasn’t familiar with smooth top cooktops. Anyway, I questioned my friend about the light that seemingly had no end. She explained that it was the cooktops way of telling her that the one or more of the burners were still warm and the indicator light would go off when the surface was cool.

Well, that darn thing intrigued me. I knew not to touch an electric burner and I also knew that a gas burner doesn’t remain hot for long once the heat is gone but this little indicator light says, “Don’t touch. The surface is hot” has now been on at least five minutes and I just really need to feel it. I mean at least get close enough to feel see if it’s still warm. As my hand inched closer and closer to the surface, I could begin to feel the heat rising. To be honest, it didn’t feel that hot until I almost touched it. I came close but I backed off at the last minute.

By this time, my friend was watching intently and made her observation.

To her and the other cackling chicks, I replied, “You’re right, I am one of those that have to learn the hard way. I doubt the warnings and most often proceed full steam ahead without caution. I do get burned a lot.”

That incident happened the better part of 15 years ago. I have to say, for the most part, I now heed warnings. I don’t go near things when there are indications I might get burned. However, it’s because for the first, more than half of my life, I had to learn the hard way.

Sometimes I wonder if my life would be more carefree if I had been the rule-follower instead of the rebel. I seriously doubt it. Life comes with complications. It’s not easy. Let’s face it, life can be downright hard. It can be hard because I am not in control. I don’t get to choose which way the wind blows. It can blow in my face with uncertainties pummeling like sand being thrust in my face. It can blow at my back pushing me in a direction I don’t want to go. It can also be hard because of my poor choices, that rebellious spirit in me.

The truth is, at heart, I am still rebellious. It’s ingrained into my very being. It’s part of what makes me, me. I’ve just learned (and still learning) to temper my rebellious nature with more thoughtful consideration or how my choices will affect me as well as others. The truth is, the decisions we make will have an impact on others. Yes, they’re our choices but be aware others will feel the effects, good or bad. Therefore, I try to consider the ultimate outcome before I plow ahead of the indicators and warnings to touch something that may burn me.

But in truth, if I really find myself intrigued by something, it’s impossible for me not to be drawn in closer and closer. That is why I have to stay firmly rooted and grounded in God’s word. It is life-saving and has proven to be life-altering.

Maybe my rebellious spirit is the very thing that God uses to remind me of my humanity and that I am only one poor choice away from destruction.

What I want to remind you today is that we’re all in the same boat. It doesn’t matter if we’re rule-following people pleasers or if we’re wild, rebellious, footloose and fancy-free, we are all one choice away from destruction or disaster. And this is why it’s so important to know the truth of God’s word. To claim the truth of God’s word and to set free by the truth of God’s word.

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free.” Luke 4:16

A Glorious Day

As I sit waiting for the dryer to stop, my mind has drifted into another time and place. Well, technically the place is practically the same and maybe that’s why my mind has escaped the reality of the present and drifted into the past.

I remember vividly as if it happened yesterday, and yet it was at least 15 years ago, possibly more. I know for certain I journaled it. I’m just not certain where that journal is right now, but when I find it, I’ll post it

It began like all mornings. Terry and I up before the crack of dawn or the rooster’s crow. In order to get him off to work by 6:30 am and get the 4 kids up and ready and out to door by 7:15 Besides being a necessity to rise early, some days those few stolen moments were the quietest of my day. I treasured them. I longed for them. I needed them.

For weeks leading up to this day, I had been struggling with the kids ns their attitudes. One thing to note, I’ve mentioned it before, but it’s worth mentioning again. I do not have compliant, non-opinionated, willfully obedient children. They all have strong personalities. I remember journaling about the difficulty I was having with discipline. I felt as though one or all four head-butted everything I asked them to do. Most times, they would concede because I was far more stubborn and bull headed but not without a fight.

Anyway, this one particular morning. I was journaling and pouring my heart out to God. I was sitting in my room with tear-stained eyes because I just didn’t think I could handle it anymore.

As I’m wiping away the tears, I hear the creaks in the wooden staircase, indicating that someone was coming upstairs. As I pull myself together, Matthew peers into the doorway, ran into the room and bounces on my lap, in a single bound. Yep, like Super Matt. He wrapped his arms around me and looked out the bedroom window. He looks at me and glances back to the window exclaiming, ”My what a glorious day!” Turning my head, I peer through the window and saw it too. A magnificent sunrise beginning to spread across the dark sky.

Yes, indeed a glorious day unfolding before me, I just needed the eyes of my child to remind me.

As I continue to ponder that day, I am reminded of how many times I cried out to God and He brought me peace and joy and reminders of his goodness through the lives of my children.

Do you know when we cry out to God in earnest plea, He turns his ear, and hears and answers the deepest cry of our heart?

In your righteousness, rescue me and deliver me, turn your ear to me and save me. Psalm 71:2

The key to this verse is recognizing the righteousness of God and believing that He alone has the power to rescue, deliver and save. Oh friend, don’t keep drowning in your sorrow. Cry out to Him. He will gladly come to your rescue, maybe in the form of a child.

Fascinated by the Sky

I have a fantastic fixation, likely an obsession, with the sky, clouds, sunrises, and sunsets. Truly sometimes I find myself just driving around to catch the last glimmer of daylight in the sky. I also love to watch and observe shapes the clouds form in the sky. I have seen a host of things from angles to horses and even a white puff of fluff that looked like my dog. Heck, I even have Terry seeing things in the clouds now.

I don’t know what precisely what fuels my obsession-compulsion; however, when I gaze at the sky I find myself encapsulated with its beauty and I say, ”Wow, God. You made this for me!”

The first mention of clouds is when God set the rainbow in the sky and promised to remember His covenant and not destroy all life again. ”I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. ”I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life.” Genesis 9:13-15 (NIV)

Again clouds are mentioned during the time of Moses and the Israelites,
”By day the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light so that they could travel by day or night.” Exodus 13:21. The cloud of the Lord was their protection. When the cloud stopped, they stopped. It served as their protection. In the same way, God used the fire by night to guide them. This way they weren’t limited to the times they could travel.

But quite possibly my favorite verse pertaining to clouds is the following

It is such a great reminder to me that one day God will right all the wrongs. He will not leave the guilty unpunished but He will be patient and give everyone time to change their hearts and minds. This isn’t a weakness. There is greatness in His power to be long-suffering. He will bring reconciliation and restoration when true repentance is sought. His methods are not ours but when wrath comes it will be swift and quick. He doesn’t play. He’s not giving idle threats. And the Pulpit Commentary says the following, ”The clouds are the dust of his feet, Large and grand as the clouds look to us, they are to God but as the dust raised by the feet in walking. As an illustration of this statement (though, of course, the fact was utterly unknown to Nahum), it has been remarked that recent scientific discovery asserts that clouds owe their beauty, and even their very existence, to the presence of dust particles in the atmosphere. The aqueous vapor, it is said, condenses on these particles, and thus becomes visible.

Maybe in writing about my fascination, I am discovering that in looking upward, I stand more in awe of Him and I am more fixated on where I am going and not where I am.