Sometimes You Gotta Speak Up

A few weeks ago I found myself in a tizzy over a bad haircut. The only thing it wasn’t my bad haircut it was Sammy’s hair, my dog. No matter how hard throughout the day I tried to ease up on my frustration and disappointment, it kept lingering, like an obnoxious headache that won’t go away.

First of all, let me explain the story. I always schedule Sammy’s haircuts on the same day as mine. (I’m probably the only dog mom who does this) It’s easier to remember. Like me, he has to go every 5 weeks. He has hair that grows like mine, only his more expensive than mine to upkeep. Also, considering my hairdresser and his groomer are on the same side of town, it just makes more sense. Besides, I can run errands if I have to wait on him for any length of time, which is also rare.

Anyway, this particular Friday, Terry was waiting for me to get back home to go eat breakfast. After I’d waited thirty minutes beyond normal, I called and was told he was on the table and would be done in twenty minutes or less. Within about ten minutes, I received a call telling me he was finished.

I immediately went to pick him up. As I was paying and making another appointment, a new gal, abruptly put him in my arms and walked off. Once I got in the car, I phoned Terry to let him know I was on my way home. Less than a minute into our conversation, I began to notice all kinds of things that were wrong with his hair. Immediately, I began naming each one and the list kept growing and I became more irate. Finally, he said, “Well, what are you gonna do about it?”

Without hesitation, I exclaimed, “I’ll call you back in a few minutes.”

Before I lost my nerve, I hurried to dial back the groomer. The first words out of my mouth were, “I know my regular groomer did not groom Sammy today because he looks horrible. I just want you to know how terribly disappointed I am with his haircut and from now on, I need you to make sure that no one else cuts his hair.” I wasn’t absurdly rude or demanding, I was more matter of fact and direct.

I fumed all day long over his hair. I even had to take scissors and even out his crown.

By evening, I was still fuming when I took dinner to Terry. As we talked, I had to ask the question, “Why am I so bothered and upset over a dogs haircut?” And then it dawned on me, “I was upset for two reasons. The first reason, I had not to be told beforehand that my regular groomer wasn’t doing his hair. I wouldn’t have left him. But the biggest reason for my angst was due to the fact my dog cannot fend for himself. He has no voice to speak up and I must be his voice because I can and he can’t.

This reminded me of how I had to speak up for Popaw and Mom when they couldn’t speak up for themselves.

It was Thursday, April 18, the day after Popaw’s stroke. Mom and I had talked on the phone around 9:00 pm and she told me that she was going to ask Teresa, the night shift nurse, to call and ask the Elizabeth House to come to get Popaw on Friday, I was in total agreement, for two reasons, Popaw wasn’t getting any better and Mom wasn’t getting any rest. The sitter service was understaffed and we could not get any helpers to come sit with Popaw. Mom’s only reprieve on Thursday had been from 9 am- 2 pm and I could already see how detrimental it was becoming for her.

On Friday, the most horrible weather day of the year, she called around 9:30 am to inform me that the Chaplain, not a nurse, from Hospice, had come by to tell her that because Paopaw’s symptoms were being managed at The Bridge, there was no reason to move him to the Elizabeth House. “It’s for patients whose pain is uncontrollable or symptoms are indicating the end of life is near.”

Her response to him, “Okay. I understand.”

However, her voice to me was full of exhaustion, anxiousness and a desperate plea for help.

I couldn’t get there immediately because of weather but Terry and I had already decided that we would go spend the day with him and give her a break. We just had to wait out the weather.

I was in the process of blow drying my hair and it hit me hard. What could I do? Who do I know? Something has to be done!

I pranced in the kitchen and told Terry my frustrations. Explained my concern for Mom and her well being as much as getting Popaw in a peaceful, restful state. He was still agitated and they were not administering drugs on a regular basis, only PRN or “as needed”

Suddenly during my raging fury, I told Terry I was going to call our friend. He serves on the Hospice board and at least he could direct me in the right way.

I called him immediately and explained the situation. He told me to be patient and he would make a few phone calls and see who I needed to speak with. After a little while, as promised, he called me back. He had talked with a few people. They could see where Popaw had been under Hospice Care and graduated out but couldn’t see he had been taken back under their care.

After a few more phone calls it was confirmed that Popaw was under Hospice care.

The next thing I needed to do was talk to the Director of Nursing at The Bridge to have her make the call. Fortunately, we had just braved the crazy weather and arrived at The Bridge. So, I didn’t have to make a phone call, I could just speak with her, face to face.

As I sat and listened to her, I was appalled to learn that they had already called twice and asked Elizabeth House to take him. Their reasoning had been the same as with my with the exception that the Hospice nurse, who had assessed Popaw, on the day of his stroke, continued to state that his condition was being managed at The Bridge. Not only were they concerned about Popaw but they also expressed concern about my mother and her state of mind, as well as her need for help. However, with the new information provided by my friend, she made the call once again.

By the time I got to Popaw’s room the medication was wearing off and he kept trying to get out of bed. Fortunately, he was much weaker on Friday than Wednesday so it was easier to keep him contained.

Around 2:00 pm, Mom received a call from the Hospice nurse handling Popaw’s case. I could tell Mom didn’t know exactly what to say and finally, she said, ” You need to talk to my daughter.”

The words spilled out of her mouth and hit me like a ton of bricks. The progress I thought that had been made halted abruptly when I heard the exact same words as Mom heard earlier from the Chaplain. I had to take a deep breath and pause before I retaliated.

For the next thirty minutes or more, she got an earful. I was as cordial and as respectful as I could be but I realized I had to fight for what I thought was right, both for Popaw as well as Mom. My final words to her went something like this, ”I am not a trained medical professional but I have seen, witnessed and experienced death and I am telling you that Popaw is in his final stages of death. Furthermore, I would like to remind you that Hospice and Elizabeth House exists for patients as well as family members. If for no other consideration, my Mom needs the benefit of him being moved there for her peace of mind and rest.”

At the end of my rant, she assured me, ”I will take this into compliance and see what I can do.”

I went back to the room and was completely satisfied that something would happen, I just didn’t know what or how soon. I knew I had not allowed my emotions to get in the way of reason and to be honest, I was quite pleased with how I had handled the situation. I think I knew how proud Ned would’ve been and that what made me the happiest.

I sent Mom out with Terr to get a bite to eat. While they were gone, I was completely satisfied to sit alone in quietness with Popaw. He’d been given some more medicine and finally settled down again.

Mom’s phone rang and I knew it was the Hospice nurse. She called to inform me that Popaw would be transported to Elizabeth House at 6:00 pm and he would be in his room by 6:15.

My heart was full and my conscience was satisfied. I knew this was the right move for both Popaw and Mom. I knew he would never return to The Bridge.

Popaw only spoke a few words that day, but as they were in the process of transporting him, I leaned over the stretcher and said, ”Don’t worry, Popaw. We are taking you to Elizabeth House. They will take great care of you there and they will keep you at peace and rest.”

”Oh, well.” he said and it was well with his soul and mine, too!

There are times in life where we need to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves. We don’t have to be irrelevant or irrational, but sometimes we must be tenacious and persistent.

And by the way, my regular groomer did call back and offer to fix Sammy’s hair but unfortunately, any fix would’ve required more cutting and he had already been cut way too short in some places. I declined and thanked them for their offer and stated I would simply wait until it grows out and bring him for his next appointment. Unfortunately, I still look at him and wince but I know he’ll look better next time.

What Drives Your FOMO

One evening at the Charleston Harbor, we stood and watched this sailboat.

I have never been on a sailboat. I’m not even sure my stomach could take it.

I found it fascinating to watch as the sailboat came from one direction, which initially seemed so far away, sailed right in front of us and then continued to move in the opposite direction until it was again barely visible.

A thought raced through my head, what have I missed out on by never going sailing? I pondered this thought, it didn’t take long for me to answer my own thought. Nothing, absolutely nothing because I have no desire to go.

The funny thing is that longer I lingered, the harder I tried to convince myself that I must be missing out. They looked like they were having a blast.

Funny how this is the very way we get caught up in things that are not good for us.

We watch others around us. They seem to be having a blast without us. Even though we know it’s beyond anything we desire, we continue to watch and observe. We convince ourselves that we must be missing out on something. In today’s world, it’s called FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). So, we cave in, even when we know it is not good for us and most times not even something we have a desire to do. It’s simply because we might be missing out.

It is this fear that leads to many failed marriages and solid relationships. This fear drives wedges, even great chasms in families This fear drives, even the best and brightest, to do detestable things.

So, how do we combat this fear of missing out?

Examine the motive. Why is this so compelling? Am I just trying to fit in? Am I afraid my life has or will pass me by?

Examine the heart. “The human heart is deceitful of all things and desperately deceitful. Who really knows how bad it is?”Jeremiah 17:9 (NLT ) Is there some hurt of pain from your past that had been unresolved that may be the driving force behind your decision.

Count the cost. Every decision both good or bad will cost something. Is it really worth the cost? Is it something you’re willing to live with the rest of your life. Is it a choice you can live with the rest of your life? Be willing to pay the price.

If I had someone tell me this long ago my choices might have been vastly different. Who’s to say? The fact is that I fight my own battles with FOMO even now. This is the reason I’ve always asked God to never let me forget where I came from. It keeps me humble and pliable and keeps my heart from wandering too far away.

Heed the Warning

True story. It’s a rare occurrence for me to be behind the wheel of a moving vehicle if Terry’s in the same vehicle. He hates my driving. He says I hit every pothole on the road. He’s probably right because my avoidance seems to be a direct hit.

Anyway, in the fall of 2006, Terry had neck surgery. After his few day stints in the hospital, they allowed him to come; but not before he signed documents stating that he would not make any major decisions for at least two weeks.

One thing to note about Terry is once he gets something on his mind he’s very persistent until it’s complete. That’s how he rolls.

The neck surgery required that I drive him around for at least nine weeks. Pure torture for us both. Rest assured.

Every day he would remark about my impeccable skill to hit every pothole in the road. After about a week, he got tired of riding in my van. He decided it was time to look past the era of vans and find something else. So, he asked me to drive him to Asheville. Apparently, he had been looking around and found this used car place.

He wants to test drive a VW Passat (4 doors) and a Volvo wagon. Keep in mind. I’m the one driving. He’s not. We finish the test drive and the next thing I know we are sitting with the salesman, and Terry is making a deal. He’s trading my van in for not one but two cars. (Side note: None of our kids were licensed drivers at the time).

We drive the Volvo home and leave the VW.

The kids all wondered how we were all going to fit in one car. I wondered the same. Terry didn’t seem concerned. He said the boys can ride in the back because it had one of those fold up seats.

I called Ned that evening and asked if he would go back to Asheville with us the next day and drive the other car back home. He agreed.

We picked him up and the look on his face said it all. If you know Ned, you understand exactly what I mean. This is the look!

Surprisingly he didn’t utter a word. I think he knew Terry was on drugs and not thinking clearly. Keep in mind, he did sign a document stating he would not make any major decisions for at least two weeks after surgery.

For the next few weeks, it was like a zoo. I used one car for transporting kids and another for transporting Terry. After about two months of chaos with cars, Terry came to his senses. He traded both cars in on a new Nissan Pathfinder with the 3rd-row seating.

The moral to this story: Heed the warnings after major surgery and whatever you do, don’t make major decisions for at least two weeks. Your brain is in a fog and you can’t process clearly.

The Rebel in Me – Part 2

I normally don’t write on my blog daily. I figure we’re all busy humans and have plenty to read on a daily basis without adding another thing in the mix. However, I felt very compelled to share this today. Maybe I just need to get it out there or maybe someone really needs to know how I struggle and how I have learned and continue to learn to walk through the process of a struggling rebel.

Picking up on the topic of rebellion from yesterday’s blog, Read Here I hope it leads you into an understanding that I struggle. It’s hard for me to make wise decisions, at times, because I want to go against the grain.

The reality is that for so many I years, I did just that. I most often did the exact opposite of what my parents wanted me to do. It took me down some very shameful and destructive roads. Roads that I am not.proud of and sometimes cringe when I have to admit, ”Yes, I did that.”

The truth is, for those who knew me then, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Airing dirty laundry here is neither necessary or fitting. However, if you’re an inquiring mind, make your own assumptions chances are you’ll be right. Even if you’re not, its probably something I thought about doing. Just keeping it real. However, don’t ever think I’ve forgotten who I was or what I did. I have NOT. Again, these are the things things that God has used and continues to use to mold me and shape me into who I am!

Obviously, I don’t sit and dwell on the past and ”what ifs”. I can’t. Life is about moving forward. It’s about pushing through the pain of our past and seeing what a glorious future we have to look forward to.

This life.is temporary and will.be full of.hurt.and pain. We.must look beyond.the now and see.the glorious hope.of Heaven.

However, there are times my past still comes face to face with raw pain. When those things come to mind, I no longer run away from them. I no longer stuff them away and tidy them up the box. Although, my rebel self.wants.desparately to do this! The truth is, when raw pain is there, I need to go in search of the root cause. There is a reason it remains raw. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t like pain when its raw. I want it to go away.

Here’s how I’ve learned to cope when that pain of my past wants to haunt me or stop me in my tracks or make me feel shameful.

First of all, I pray and ask God if there’s something in me that still needs to he healed. Is there an area of my heart that still has unresolved hurt and pain? Why do I go to God first?

Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration—what a creation! You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, The days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day.”

‭‭Psalm‬ ‭139:13-16‬ ‭MSG‬‬

I figure since He knows me best, He my best resource. The main issue is that sometimes the rebel in.me kicks back, like Romney, and I don’t really want to hear what He has to say. Or the rebel part of me doesn’t want to be broken down to be made whole. You see the fight I have with this spirit of rebellion? It’s real and it’s an ongoing fight.

Sometimes, I use the resources of godly and wise friends to help.me navigate through getting to.the root of my pain. There is nothing more beautiful than having people you can be real with. You know the ones who aren’t afraid of your mess but they’re not afraid to tell you when you’re wrong. They aren’t there to.judge or glean information to share about you with the next person. They’re there because they want to see you break-free and be whole again.

Other times, I must.go and seek the counsel of.a Pastor or.other biblically trained professional. I need the Truth of Gods word.pouring into me. The reality is that its only the Truth that will set me free.

And ye shall know.the.truth and the truth shall.make you free. John 8:32 KJV

When I am aware of the root of.my pain, I can then apply the Truth of Gods word to my hurt and pain. Once the hurt and pain has been appropriately dealt with and the root.has been discovered. The Truth of Gods word then acts a soothing balm of.healing. Also, when dealt with appropriately, it rarely effects me again. I’ve taken care of the ”real” issue. I haven’t given it a bandaid fix.

A bandaid may stop the bleeding and cover the wound, but a bandaid will never cure the wound.

Sometimes, this whole process is daunting. So much so, that I want to give up and give in and just.go back to being my rebel self. Then the Truth floods my soul and I am reminded of ALL that God has brought me through. I see his mighty works and I marvel that in spite of who I am, He loves me! He died for me! (John 3:16) He calls.me the ”apple of his eye”.(Psalm 17:8) He sings over me. (Zeph 3:17)

I Thought We’d Have More Time

All week long, we’ve been warned about the infamous Diego aka Snowmageddon 2018. The name was given to the winter storm that has pummeled the south this weekend. We were prepared. We have plenty of non-perishable food and bottled water. We had enough bread, milk, and eggs on hand but like Terry says, “If the power goes out, bread is the only thing that will keep, unless you have a generator.”

We sold our generator before we moved. Did we think we wouldn’t need one? Not necessarily, we simply don’t have room to store one and we’ve braved many power outages without a generator before. Besides, our new hike is highly enemy efficient and we have a gas log fireplace. We also have a gas grill and can cook on it, if needed.

The snow in our sleepy little town of Landrum didn’t start until around 5:30 pm yesterday. Considering the favorable temperatures, sticking began almost immediately.The picture was taken about an hour after the snow began

In fact, the snow was so quiet and beautiful it was like going outside and standing in the middle of a snow globe. A little after 11:00 pm, this is how it looked,

After watching the Christmas Chronicles on Netflix, which is a must see, we opted to watch one of our faves, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. We both fell asleep in our recliners before the movie ended, that’s what happens when you get older. We are awakened by the startling noise on Terry’s phone telling us our power was out. Evidently, it went out around 1:00 am and Duke Energy sent us an alert. As we sleepily trudged toward the bedroom with the flashlight in hand, Terry exclaimed, “Well dang, I thought we’d have more time before the power went out”.

When we got up both of us were dreading the fact we couldn’t make coffee. We didn’t care about the heat. We knew our gas logs would be effective. We just don’t function well without coffee. We are definitely coffee lovers.

Finally, around 1:00, we ventured out. The roads were horrific; however, we were able to get to the local gas station, which had power, and get coffee. We came back home fully rejuvenated and caffeinated up.

We ventured out again around 3:00 because our local Pub was opened and we wanted some hot food and watch football.

Once back home, we pulled out all the candles and cranked up the gas logs. Then to our surprise, around 5:30 pm our power came back on. What a welcome surprise; but, we were prepared and not fretting another night without power.

As I think back over the events of the past 24 hours, I wonder how many of us think the same thing Terry did, ” I thought we’d have more time.”?

In the Bible, we are told we don’t know the time or day of Jesus’ return, but He is coming back. Are you ready? Have you prepared? Do it now because you don’t want that day to come and say, “Well dang, I thought we’d have more time.”

Why I call him Ned

In my previous post, Read here, I said Mom and Ned were married without a hitch. While the wedding did go off without a hitch, the marriage itself came with plenty.

One being that Ned was starting out with the insta-fam, a wife and three kids, and the knowing he would never have a biological child of his own.

Two, we would have to pack our family and move from Brevard to Columbus, NC. Why you ask? Ned’s job. He was a Special Agent with the SBI and he worked Polk and Rutherford Counties. The job required him to live in one of the counties in which he worked.

Prior to their June wedding, they purchased a lot in Columbus and hired Mom’s cousin from Inman to build the house. Around the first of August 1978, we loaded up the fam and moved into our new home.

I wasn’t thrilled. I’ve never been one for change, although my life has been a constant series of change. (This is how I know God has an incredible sense of humor.) The move took me away from my two best friends, Diane and Theresa. It also took me further away from my cousins, aunts, uncles and both sets of grandparents.

Not long after we moved, Ned sat us all down and told us that we could call him whatever we wanted to but his stipulation, “Whatever you start with, you stick with”. David and Kristi both chose to call him, Daddy and I chose, Ned. He never asked again and I never changed my mind. However, that didn’t mean I didn’t think of him as my daddy, it just meant we were both staid on what was agreed upon.

A few weeks after this encounter, he called me into his office with Mom. Probably the only time I wasn’t in trouble for something. No joke, I was always causing some sort of raucous! He and Mom sat me down and he followed up with this, “You know I love you, Kristi and David like your my own. I want to adopt you but that means you’ll have to change your last name. I wanted to ask you because your the oldest and whatever decision you make is fine with me. I won’t love you any more or less than I do right now.”

Without even a moments hesitation, I blurted out, “No. I don’t want you to adopt us. Daddy was so proud to have a son to carry on his name, I don’t want our last names changed.” He graciously and humbly accepted my answer and he never, ever asked again.

What kind of man does that, you ask? A man like, Ned Whitmire. A man with a generous, kind heart. A man who was sure of himself and had no need to demand his own way. A man who prayed and asked God to go before him, lead and guide him. A man who chose to do what God told him to do. That’s what kind of man does such a thing as this. He wasn’t looking to his own interest. He cared more about us than he did about himself or having a son to carry on his name.

So, when we get the stories about his stubborn and contrariness that made him who he was, you’ll first remember that he had a soft and tender side too!

This is the very reason, I call him a unique man. Most men, first and foremost, wouldn’t seek out a woman with three kids and ask her to marry him, much less be satisfied knowing he would never have any children of his own. You see, he found the one God had made and kept for him.

A new understanding

For the longest time I never understood how folks could become so attached to their animals. Let’s face it, growing up with a Basset Hound is not what I consider to be the ideal family pet.  She wasn’t a bad dog, she just wasn’t that stereotypical, picture perfect dog that could be classified as “man’s best friend.”  Of course, she was never allowed in our house, only the basement part of our garage and only when it was frigid outside, or she was in heat, or when she had pups. How could one get so attached to a creature that spent most days roaming the yard or woods?  Duchess wasn’t a dog who would just sit and enjoy being petted. Plus, she smelled, as most hounds do,  and she hated baths.  As soon as she was out of the bath, she was running to find dirt or grass so she could roll around and dirty herself up again.  In other words, she just wasn’t a dog that captured your heart, at least not for me, my sister and brother may disagree.

Anyway, when Terry and I were first married, we took in a stray cat because he refused to get the boys a dog. To be honest, I am not a cat person.  I learned to like them because of my children.  In fact, you learn to like a lot of things for those you love.  We’ve had several cats and buried several cats.  A couple even ran away, maybe for better food or for more adventure. Who knows.  Anyway, I just don’t have a particular fondness for cats. Obviously, I was sad when one of them died or went missing, but not completely heartbroken.  I was more heartbroken for my kids because they were heartbroken.

Finally when Amy turned 10 Terry decided it was time to get a dog.  The dog would be “her” Christmas gift. One afternoon before Christmas, Alex, Amy and I went to the local pet store to scan and look at the puppies.  There were plenty of cute puppies to choose from but the Bichons caught our eye.  I don’t know if it was because they looked like little cotton puff balls curled up beside one another or if their cute little black noses and eyes(Side note: Bichon’s do not have fur.  They have hair.  It actually grows like our hair, which is why it has to be cut every 5-6 weeks) Maybe it’s because I knew ahead of time the breed is hypoallergenic and that was important to me. Needless to say, I gravitated to the Bichon and even took a picture of Amy holding him.  Sent it to Terry.  He said, “We’ll see.”

A few days later, December 24, 2008, Terry and I went back to the pet store to peruse and find the perfect dog for Amy.  Again, we were surrounded by multiple choices and some really adorable dogs.  Of course I migrated toward the Bichons and finally persuaded Terry to come look at them and then it happened.  I encouraged him to hold one and I held the other one. After a few minutes the owner came over to talk to us.  He was telling Terry all of the benefits to having a Bichon, just like I had previously told him. It also helped when he told us the breeder was going to lower her price because it was Christmas Eve.  Terry chose the one he wanted by putting them both back in the crate and observing their behavior.  He chose the more calm one.

That happened nine years ago.

Remember the dog is for Amy, right?  Amy didn’t pick the dog.  Terry picked the dog.  Amy didn’t name the dog.  Terry named the dog.  So who’s dog is it anyway?

Most days he’s my dog.  Oh, he loves to curl up on Terry’s lap when he’s home.  Terry says, “He’s the only dog I know that can make you tired because he’s tired.”  I have to remind him that a Bichon Frise means “curled up lap dog”.  He definitely lives up to his breed.   He follows me.  When I get up, especially if I’m heading into the kitchen he follows me. There have been times when I’ve had to cook with him on my hip just like when my children were babies. If I’m not holding him, he lays on the floor and watches my every move.  Of course he’s hoping I’ll drop something so he can scoff it up. He’s always excited to see me when I get home.  He comes to me when he needs to go outside.  He lets me know when he’s out of food or water, which doesn’t happen often, just every now and then. He takes care of me when I’m sick, or at least he thinks he does.  He just curls up right beside me or on my lap and won’t leave my side until I get up. He’s highly protective of me.  He’s the best watch dog. His bark is annoying and aggravating but no one is getting in my house without warning. I absolutely adore him.  All of the kids accuse me of loving the dog more than I love them.  There may be some truth to that.  He’s always delighted to see me.  He doesn’t talk back.  I can hold him and love on him anytime I want.  He will always stay little and he will always need me.

Now I completely understand how people become so attached to their fur babies.  They truly become part of the family.  I really can’t imagine what it would be like without the company Sammy provides for me.  I know I will miss him terribly when he is no longer with us because he is a part of our family.

There are many things in life that we do not understand.  We don’t understand because we don’t have the experience.  Experience is a teacher.  Once we’ve learned by the experience, then and only then, can we share the lessons we learn and impart knowledge and wisdom gained along the way. I know wheat it’s like to watch a parent suffer and die. I know and understand from the standpoint of a young child and older adult.. However, I don’t have the foggiest clue of what it feels like to lose a spouse or child to death. I can pray for them, empathize with them and point them to others who’ve had that experience but I cannot impart any great knowledge or truly understand how it feels. It would be a travesty for me to try to impart some wisdom or truth into something I know nothing about. On the other hand, it’s a travesty if I’ve been given wisdom and knowledge and refuse or neglect to share what I’ve learned with others who are facing similar situations. Remember people need people. We were not designed to go it alone. God never intended for us to do life alone.

But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.. James 3:17

First Week….First Christmas tree and first sleepless nights!

Our story continued……

Our first week of marriage had some rough spots. So, if you’re under the impression that we’ve somehow just sailed through the past 23 years, I’m sorry to disappoint you and tell you that we’ve had our share of struggles.

Obviously our honeymoon couldn’t last a full week because of Christmas coming. We headed to Murrels Inlet on December 17 and returned on December 21.

Since we had closed on the house the 7th of December, we were all set up and ready to move in. We picked the boys up from my parents and went to our new home.

We didn’t have a Christmas tree and I wanted to put on in the picture window. I asked Terry if he and the boys would go find us a tree. In the meantime, I could finish unpacking those few remaining boxes and get the lights and ornaments ready for the tree

When they arrived back with the tree, I was disappointed, to say the least. The tree poorly misshapen, dry as a bone, needles falling with each move. Terry assured me that was the best they had to pick from. It reminded me of the Charlie Brown tree, only larger and a little more full.

Once we got the tree set in the stand, we realized the trunk wasn’t exactly straight. It had a slight curve which caused it to be cattywampus! A clearly defined lean-to the right. (If I ever find a picture, I’ll share it). We straightened it with the base as much as we could.

Finally, the tree was ready for lights and decorations. Now, I have a thing for blown glass tree ornaments and had purchased a ton of these before Ryan was born. Since the boys were both small and wanted to help, I knew better than to let them hang the ornaments. I hung them around the middle and top and let them hang the non-breakables around the bottom, where their little hands could reach.

Once decorated, the once frail looking tree, had life. Our first tree! We were all proud of it. The only foreseeable issue was the lean-to and the distinct possibility the tree could topple.

We had thoroughly enjoyed our first full day as a family of four. Then came the first night.

Considering that the boys and I lived with my parents and Matthew didn’t sleep through the night. He was accustomed to getting out of bed and crawling in the bed with me. If I wasn’t home, he crept downstairs and got in bed with Mom and Ned. Terry was well aware of this and had already told me that Matthew was not sleeping with us.

“He’s 3 years old and old enough to be sleeping by himself  Besides, he’s in a bad habit of not sleeping through the night becasuse you and your parents have allowed him to get in bed with you.  I’m not sharing my bed with a 3 year old.  I’m sharing my bed with you.”

We tucked the boys in  They shared a room because that’s what they were accustomed to, even at Mom’s.  They went to sleep right away.  Terry and I went to bed.  He locked our bedroom door to keep Matthew from coming in.  We had nightlights all over the house, thanks to Mamaw.  Like clockwork, around 2:00 AM, Matthew gets out of the bed.  Our house was small and I could hear the pitter-patter of little feet, not to mention, we had some creaky floors.  He came to the door and turned the knob.  It was locked.  He knocked gently on the door.

Terry said, “Matthew, go back to bed.”

At this point, he started to cry and knocked louder.  Terry kept reassuring him he would be fine and needed to go back to bed.  I was crying too.  It was breaking my heart to hear him cry but I knew I had to break the cycle.  It’s just hard and especially when Matthew was my baby, at the time.

After a few minutes the crying ceased,  I drifted back to sleep.  The next morning we were up early.  Upon opening the door, we found Matthew curled up outside our bedroom door with a blanket.

The next night, the same thing, only there was less crying and Matthew did go back to his room  The third night, he came and only a gentle knock at the door.  No crying.  He went straight back to his bedroom.  That was the last night he got up in the middle of the night. From that point on, he slept straight through the night, at least when he was home.

I remeber telling Terry I felt like he was ripping my heart and Matthew’s heart in pieces. Truth is, he was.  It needed to happen.  We just weren’t ready, at first.  It was traumatic for all of us.  Terry didn’t want to hurt either one of us.  He just knew what was best.  I hade to learn to trust that about him and so did Matthew.

We had a wonderful first Christmas and our tree was still hanging on, by a thread.  We planned to take it down on Decebmer 28.  It didn’t quite make it.

The boys were rough-housing, typical boy stuff you know?  They can’t help themselves. They dashed through the dining room into the living room and somehow Matthew’s hefty little self hit the tree.  Still, to this day, have no clue how it happened.  It just did and suddenly, like the great mulitude of angels singing, there was a great mulitude of cracking and breaking of glass.  Remember, I had all those lovely blown-glass ornaments around the middle and top section of the tree.  The thud.  The crash.  The breaking of glass.  I knew what happened and in a fit of rage, I screamed at both of the boys.  Sent them to their rooms and started crying over those shards of broken glass.

I didn’t think one time about the fact that neither one of them had been injured or cut by the glass.  At that moment, all I could think about was my lovely, beautiful ornmanets destroyed.

I was so angry that I made Terry angry.  He didnt yell and scream at the boys but he did give them a good talking to.

Then he and Matthew both tried to console me.  Matthew said, ‘Momma, I’m sorry.  We can get you some new ones.”

I didn’t want new ones.  I didn’t want to be consoled.  I just wanted to be angry.

A little while later, after I finally calmed down, Terry came to talk to me.  He let me know very quickly that I had behaved like a child.  Sadly, I knew he was right.  He also reminded me that the cattywampus tree was probably destined to fall anyway.  He also reminded me that those boys were little.  They were going to play rough.  Things were going to get broken.

After this incident, I would love to tell you I never had a childish outburst again, but that would be a lie.  What did happen after this particular outburst was my attitude towards things of value began changing.  I began to see the importance of lives over things.  I began to see that the hearts and lives of my children were far greater than any blown-glass Christmas ornament on my tree.  I slowly began to change my perspective.

The other valuable lesson through our first days together was learning that Terry and I had to communicate.  We had to talk about our feelings about things and we had to work them out.  We didn’t always have to approve of eachothers behaviors or attidudes but we did have to learn to effectively communicate.  If we were going to make this marriage thing work, we had to talk but more importantly, we had to learn to put God at the center of everything.  It was a choice that we had to make then and one we are still making today.

Choosing Wisely

It’s funny how the order of things sometimes gets confusing.  Over the past few weeks, I’ve realized that a lot of folks think Alex, my third child, is actually the youngest. Well, he’s not.  Alex just made a different choice about higher education after high school.

Alex’s senior year of high school was filled with aspiring thoughts of playing collegiate golf. It was his dream. He was, in fact, given the opportunity to walk-on at Brevard college. However, a few weeks before the start of school, Alex informed us that he knew Brevard college was not the place for him and he couldn’t go to a school just to play a sport he loved. Hence, the decision to attend Blue Ridge Community College.

After his Freshman year, he was burned out. Begged us to allow him to take at least a semester off so he could work full-time .

Together, we decided the better choice was to go part-time, work and play golf. Part-time would keep him in the groove but allow him some time to refocus and figure out what he really wanted to do. It worked.

By the end of his second year, He decided to pursue a degree in business. All the while, making sure his classes would transfer to a university.

A few months ago, he received and acceptance letter to Clemson and UNC Charlotte . The only two schools he applied to.  After thoughtful prayer and consideration, he made his decision to attend UNCC.

Here’s what he had to say about that decision:

Since I’ve had numerous people asking me about my future school plans, here’s an update:

I’ve decided to attend UNC-Charlotte this upcoming fall. While I did really consider enrolling into Clemson, I’ve felt led, due to numerous factors, to attend Charlotte.

It’s been one heck of a ride since I got out of high school and at times has been fairly directionless. In May, I will graduate from Blue Ridge Community College with an associates degree. Now, would I change the path that I chose? Absolutely not. Honestly, I would really like to urge high school seniors that are unsure of their future plans to pursue this route. The benefits are astounding and there is no shame in attending a local community college.

This process, at times, has been quite the struggle… and at other times very rewarding. I cannot wait to see where God leads me on this next journey of my life.

Two days ago, he brought home his cap and gown. He will be graduating on May 13th and we are thrilled for him. He has chosen a different path but one that was wise for him.

One of my favorite quotes from The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst is, “Wisdom makes decisions today that are still good for tomorrow.”  Alex has used wisdom to make good decisions for himself and the dividends will be huge

I am so proud of this young man and his ability to think and reason through choices. He will be the first one in our family to actually hold a degree of some sort.  Like I’ve recently said to both Ryan and Matthew, “Bout time somebody gets a degree of some sort in our family. “.