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.

Coffee Talk

Before I continue writing our story, I need to let you know that our lives are not peaches and cream. There is absolutely, and I mean absolutely, no way for two highly opinionated, stubborn people to not have issues.  Just ain’t gonna happen.  I promise.

I can’t even pinpoint the exact time it happened but our children were all still home and in school.  Guessing, I’d say probably around 15 years ago.  I just know it began when all of our children would at least stay in bed until 7:30am on Saturday mornings.  We were early risers and found ourselves enjoying conversation and coffee.  Hence, began what we commonly refer to as “coffee talk”.

During our coffee talk, we spend time talking about everything.  We don’t hold anything back. Most of our conversations, especially early on, centered around our children and their friends.  We would discuss potential issues we saw in our children and especially behavioral changes we saw with certain friends.

We would also talk about things we liked and disliked about each other.  Things that bothered us or behviors or attitudes that we didn’t like.  We did.  Honestly, we still do. We are just not afraid to share how we feel.

There have been times over the past 24 years when there have been times that I’ve just wanted to walk and so has he. These are the times we’ve had to be painfully honest with each other. These are the times where we’ve had to be raw with each other and not hold anything back.

Both of us have always been aware that we are one choice away from being unfaithful. We know how easily we could get sucked into the idea that ”the pasture is greener on the other side” However, from our previous experiences, we also know the pain of unfaithfulness and committed, early on, to fight hard and remain faithful.

If you think it’s been easy for us, think again. We began our lives together with the ready-made family. Two young whippersnappers, ages 3 & 5, are not an ideal way to begin a union. We were and are still determined. And I believe that’s what has made the biggest difference.

We know the value communication.

If you’re in any relationship right now and you’re not honestly and openly communicating with each other; I encourage you to start your own version of ”coffee talk”. It’s amazing how much it will change your lives.

Think about it like this:

Maxwell house: Good to the last drop

Folger’s: The best part of waking up

Starbucks Doubleshot: Bring on the day

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.”

The High Level of His Confidence

If you’ve followed me for a while, you know December is a big month for our family. It begins with my birthday and ends with my oldest son, Ryan’s birthday. Sandwiched in the middle is our anniversary, .follwoed by Terry’s birthday and Christmas I know. I know. Why did we choose December, of all months, to get married?

Terry chose it and assumed I would go along with it. I did. Read here, However, a.few years ago I posted the following question ”You planned our wedding before you even asked me to marry you. Did it ever occur to you I might say no?”

He replied, ”Not really. ”

”If I hadn’t accepted your proposal, what would you have done?”

Without missing a beat, ”Well, I guess I would’ve gotten money back on the ring. I just didn’t have any doubts about your response”

This man is mine is so self-assured and self-confident In fact its one of his best attributes One of the many things I admire in him. His confidence is not a prideful confidence; rather an assuring certainty that he can do what he sets his mind on He doesn’t fear the risk a much as he fears not trying.

His confidence is also my confidence. He sees so much more potential in me than I see in myself. He doesn’t mind telling me. He’s a great and genuine source of encouragement to me.

The beauty of his confidence is that it comes with humility He isn’t afraid to admit when he’s wrong. He’s quick to say he’s sorry. But above all, he recognizes that his true strength and confidence comes from his Lord.

What I’ve learned over the past 24 years is that its okay to fail. It’s ok.to be told ”no” Its ok to back up and punt again. But it’s not okay to fear the unknown and not take a risk. The risk may just be your greatest reward

The Lamp

This lamp came to my house via my Moms house. As we were walking through her monstrous house and trying to decide what she wanted to keep or donate, we came upon this lamp. She pointed and said, “That’s going to the donate pile.”

I said, “Mom, that’s a great lamp. You’re not keeping it?”

To which she replied, “Honey, it’s been sitting on top of the file cabinet all these years. I really don’t know where it came from.”

I didn’t hesitate to say, “Well, if you’re not keeping it, I’ll take it.”

It took about three weeks from that point to sneak it in my car and bring it home. Why did I sneak it in my car? Because I knew better than to tell Terry I was bringing home another one. He would notice anyway. He always notices.

Before choosing its spot, I left it in the garage. As afore mentioned, Terry noticed. I swear. He’s got hawk eyes. I didn’t try to hide it. I just didn’t have it blatantly obvious. He waltzes in the great room and announces, “I see you’ve brought another lamp home. I’m guessing you brought that from your Mama’s. Where are you going to put it? Every room in this house has at least two lamp i don’t know why you’d need another one. We have plenty of lights.”

By the time he finished his speech, I was already moving lamps around and bringing this one in. I found its perfect spot. Once in place, I turned to him and said, “See! It fits perfectly here.”

He agreed and then said, ” It really is a cool looking lamp. I like it.”

To be honest, I wasn’t surprised by his response. We then to have similar taste in furnishings.

At that point, I explained how the lamp begged me to bring it home.

When I first looked at the lamp it reminded me of the following, “You anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever”. Psalm 23:5b-6. As I moved my hands from the top of the base to the bottom, it was as if the Word of God came alive in my hands.

As I finished my spiel, he looked at me and said, “I see it too.” It’s a good thing ’cause the lamp was not going anywhere. It serves as a good reminder to me that I am announced, shielded and protected for all the rest of my days. What a great reminder to have right in front of me every day.

Halloween Shenanigans

A few years ago I decided to make a confession. My confession went something like this.

When the children were young and going trick or treating, our rule for candy was as follows: no eating candy until we got home and checked it. Then, we would generally allow them one or two pieces before bed. All the while, telling them it was for their protection. To some degree that was truth; however, it was more because Terry and I wanted to take out our faves and keep them for ourselves.

To be honest, one of my favorite times of the year was Halloween. Not only did our kiddos look forward with great anticipation, Terry and I enjoyed dressing them up and taking them to gather candy. In fact, some of our fondest and funniest memories are Halloween memories.

The one we talk about the most is this particular Halloween pictured below

Matthew’s costume was a vampire. It wasn’t a total epic fail but obviously my bother, the makeup artist, wasn’t available to get the makeup just so-so. There was no Pinterest, not that it would’ve made a difference.

Before going to the Pumpkin Patch, Terry decided we should just let them stroll through our neighborhood. So we loaded Alex in the stroller and began walking. Ryan and Matthew got a little ahead of us. The road ahead was steep, and boys will be boys. They move full speed ahead. Terry suddenly burst into laughter. Between laughs he said ” I didn’t realize we were taking James Brown trick or treating. Look at the back of Matthews wig. He looks just like James Brown running down the street.”

For years we’ve howled over that night.

I think our most memorable Halloween, for me, was our first one. We took Ryan and Matthew to Pumpkin Patch. Afterwards Terry said, ” Those boys need to get more candy. They’ve never been trick or treating, have they?”

We drove over to Druid Hills, an Historical District, in Hendersonville. The rain had subsided leaving behind piles of wet leaves. Terry decided it would be a good idea to let me and the boys out, while he followed behind at a slow pace. Ryan, being the candy fiend he is, darted off from house to house. Matthew’s little legs trying to keep up. When suddenly, Matthew, sporting a firemen’s outfit that year, ran right out of his boots and kept trucking. Leaving me behind to locate his shoes in the wet leaves. All the while, Terry following from inside the warm truck, laughing hysterically at the sight before his eyes.

I knew then and still know now that life with Terry will always be an adventure. It will always be a life filled with laughter and a life filled with special memories.

Broken and Useful

Interestingly I happened upon a PBS show Eugenics Crusade. Eugenics became popular in the United States as well as other countries because of its promise to improve the human race. However, popularity waned when Hitler perverted eugenics during World War II to form his “perfect society”.

After watching the show, I conversed with my friend, Tima, about the whole idea of eugenics. During the course of our conversation we discussed the magnitude of how much can be learned by those society deems invaluable, in particularly those with severe mental handicaps.

Have you ever been around adults or children with severe mental handicaps? How do you feel around them? Do they make you cringe? Do you feel an awkwardness because they’re not like you? Are they detestable and insignificant to you?

For years, I feared those with handicaps. Let me explain. When I was young my Caregiver had neighbors who had a handicapped son. He had cerebral palsy. He was wheelchair bound, he didn’t speak, moaned and drooled. He could sit upright and had use of his hands. One time, I got close to wheelchair and he lunged at me. Scared the life out of me. His sweet mother explained he was just trying to give me a hug. This whole thing was foreign to me and as a result I avoided children and adults who had handicaps.

Fast forward about 20 years and I met this couple, Steve and Lynn Easler. They were my Sunday School teachers. We had a Christmas party and they invited me to come ride with them. At that time, I didn’t know a lot about them. When I arrived at their house, the introduced me to their three biological children and then to Jared, their first special needs adopted son. Jared had physical disabilities, not mental, his hands and feet were clubbed. On the way to the party they shared with me their desire to adopt “special needs” children. Little did I know, at the time, that I would have the privilege of watching God gift them with a multitude of children.

However. it was the adoption of their third child that God would show me how absurdly wrong my thinking was about “special needs” children. Julia, now in her late twenties, was born with Cerebral Palsy. Her life itself is a miracle. Trust me. When Lynn and Steve brought her home, we gathered and prayed over her. At the time, they didn’t know how severe she really was. Julia, by the world view, is nothing more than a “vegetable”, if you will. She requires full time care and can do nothing on her own. She even has a feeding tube. Yet the joy this child has brought to those of us who know her is unexplainable. The way she turns he head at the sound of Lynn and Steve’s voices. The way she looks at them. The tenderness and care they administer to her. She is a gift. It’s truly a beautiful thing as well as humbling. You see, God pours himself into her brokenness and makes her a thing of beauty to all who know her.

Our desire is for perfection. Now, we’re working harder and harder to achieve what we deem perfect. Social media gives us a boost, too, because it’s easier to portray the perfect image. Heck, now there’s even an app to make your body look better. Our desire for perfection keeps us from being honest with ourselves and others when we are broken.

Perfection to most is something that is unbroken, no holes, no blemishes, flawless. However, let me explain something about God’s view of perfection. He takes that which is broken and seemingly useless and He makes it useful and highly valuable. Our problem is that we want to hide or rid ourselves of our flaws. Do you realize that He wants to work through them? God wants to use our brokenness, our blemishes and holes to pour out more of himself . He takes our uselessness and makes it useful for his glory.

As I was sitting here writing this song came to mind.

Bill Gaither – Something Beautiful Lyrics

Something beautiful, something good
All my confusion He understood
All I had to offer Him was brokenness and strife
But he made something beautiful of my lifeIf there ever were dreams
That were lofty and noble
They were my dreams at the start
And hope for life’s best were the hopes
That I harbor down deep in my heart
But my dreams turned to ashes
And my castles all crumbled, my fortune turned to loss
So I wrapped it all in the rags of life
And laid it at the cross

Where Hope is Found

On Saturday we celebrated Popaw’s 92nd birthday. Due to an early morning fall and trip to the ER, nothing serious, our plans changed from going to Moms to celebrating in his room at The Bridge. (The assisted living facility where he resides.)

As I rounded the hallway towards his room, a flashback filled my mind’s eye and suddenly it was last year, Friday, October 13, 2017.

Ned had been transferred from the The Lodge to The Bridge. His room, not by chance, was directly across the hall from Popaw’s. It was his first day there.

I was scheduled to meet him and Mom back at the hospital for an echocardiogram. I was there 15 minutes early. I sat down and waited. Surprised by the fact they weren’t there, cause Ned is never late. Always early. Never late. I hemmed and hawed a few more minutes before calling Mom. She didn’t answer. So the next best thing, call Ned.

“Hey, are y’all on the way to the hospital?”

“No. Your Mom’s gone to Walmart. I bet she forgot.”

I put him on hold, Talked to the receptionist, explained the situation. Told her I’d go get him and bring him back, She assured me time was not of the essence and not to rush to get him back.

Got back on the phone with Ned and told him I’d be there in a few minutes.

Don’t you just hate it when they tell you not to rush and you rush anyway. I mean he was already late and I hate to hold people up. I wheeled my car into the parking lot at The Bridge. Briefly I thought of leaving my vehicle unattended under the breezeway but decided to park instead. Good thing I did.

To be honest, I was half expecting to see Ned in the downstairs lounge area waiting for me. Simply because I had told him to stay put in his room and I’d come get him. He wasn’t there. Hopped on the elevator and went to the 2nd floor. As I rounded the corner, I noticed that his door was slightly ajar. I walked in and he wasn’t there. His walker was there…..but no Ned. I peeped in Popaw’s room and he wasn’t there. So, I began my descent down the hallway and thats when I saw him. He was staggering and holding on to the railing with one hand. It was apparent he had no idea where he was. He saw me and said “I was trying to get to the elevator to find you”. Yeppers, he didn’t listen. He didn’t stay in his room and if he’d been more familiar with his surroundings would most likely have been waiting for me.

He was so weak he could barely walk. I gave him my arm and told him to keep using the rail with the other hand. We made it back to his room. Exhausted, he sat down in his wheelchair. I told him we didn’t have to rush to take his time. He began complaining of nausea. Vomiting and nausea were his latest symptoms. He stood to grab hold of the walker and suddenly hurled everything in his stomach into the sink. He sat back down. I finished cleaning the portion of the mess he couldn’t clean. Then I told him I was calling to cancel his appointment. He agreed.

We continued to sit there for a spell before he got sick again. After the next episode, he looked at me with tears in his eyes and said, “Can’t someone tell me what’s wrong with me?”

I have to admit. I almost broke. I couldn’t break, not in front of him. It took every ounce of effort and will in me not to burst into tears. The past seven weeks had been such a roller coaster for all of us, especially for him. He’d been poked, prodded, X-rayed, and examined more times than I can count.

I looked at him and said “I am doing all I can to help the doctors figure out what’s going on. I’m trying the best I know how.”

At that moment, we both knew it was the cancer invading his body. We knew it wasn’t going to get better but as long as the doctors gave us a shred of hope, we clung to it. It was all we had.

As it turned out, his stay at The Bridge was short lived. He was there two nights. They couldn’t control his nausea and vomiting and had no choice but send him back to the hospital.

As I’ve reflected on this day, I am reminded that Ned was never without hope. Although there were times when the cancer and side effects from the drugs, looked bleak, hope was always present. There was hope for the drugs to eradicate the cancer. There was hope when the cancer went dormant for awhile. There was hope when the cancer returned that it was still treatable. Even when the new drugs failed to deliver and his problems surmounted, he still had the hope of eternal life with Christ because of his decision to place his faith in Christ. It’s the same with all of us who believe. Our lives may feel like they’re falling apart but Jesus is the hope of the world. He is the reason we can have hope to face another minute, another hour, another day. It is only this hope that assures us of our eternal destination.

Dear friends, if today finds you without hope and in what seems a hopeless situation, turn to Jesus. He is your only hope.

A Tiny Pinhole

The tiniest pinhole can wreak havoc. Fortunately, the damage, not severe or too costly, was relatively an easy fix. However, if I’d driven my car much further the damage could have been irreversible and very costly.

Several weeks ago, I was driving home. It was around 9:00. I stopped by to chat with a for a few minutes before heading down the mountain. On the way home, I returned the phone call of another friend and was chatting with her. As I neared the Columbus exit, I heard an odd sound. At first, I ignored it because Terry frequently tells me “You hear car noises which have no relevance to issues. You dream up noises” Surprise. Surprise. Continuing my phone conversation, the noise happened again only louder. Oh, it was definitely my car. I didn’t panic. Which is all together surprising. I kept driving and talking. As I drove up the Landrum exit, the noise became louder. Then I smelled oil burning. I didn’t have far to go and prayed as I turned off the exit ramp, “God, please get me home.” I was also grateful to be on the phone with someone……just in case.

I made it. Pulled safely into the garage, saw smoke, smelled the burn and lifted the hood. All the while, chatting with my friend, who was totally oblivious because I never told her. I didn’t want to concern her. Besides, I was home.

The next morning, we called and had the car towed. We both knew it wasn’t in a drivable state. In fact, we were concerned the motor has blown. Fortunately, once our mechanic took a good look at it, he said the oil hose had a pinhole puncture which caused the oil to spray and the noise was the pressure that caused the oil lifter kit to explode.. Needless to say, not only was oil saturating the undercarriage, it was heavy and thick on my back window. Gross.

The interesting thing about this was when I asked my mechanic so show me the problem, he pulled out the faulty oil hose and pointed to the pinhole but it was so tiny, I couldn’t see it. Also, he told us that the car has two oil hoses and both were a high density plastic, which is likely the cause of the pinhole. So, he replaced them with metal oil hoses.

Do you know that the schemes of Satan are much like that tiny pinhole? He is crafty and sneaky. He maneuvers and works his way through the tiniest pinhole of weakness he can find in us only to reek havoc. It is his chief goal and desire. John 10:10 (ESV) “The thief (devil) comes only to steal, kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly”. And sometimes, because we are not equipped well to handle his schemes, it’s much easier for him to work through and wreak havoc. However, when we’ve chosen to be fitted with the full armor of God (Eph 6:10-19) we have weapons to defend against his attacks.

Pumpkin carving

There’s a first time for everything. This picture is a clear depiction of just that. Terry and I had been married almost 2 years. Until this particular day, I had been carving pumpkins with my munchkins.

As a matter of fact, my friend Nancy is the one who started this tradition with my boys. A few years earlier, she invited me and the boys to come carve pumpkins and roast pumpkin seeds. Neither of us had a clue what we were doing but we managed. The boys had so much fun, I knew we would do it again.

For the next few years, our pumpkins got a little more creative and elaborate. Mainly because my creative brother and mother were there to help. I am not creative. Let’s face it, my idea of drawing a person is a circle and lots of straight lines for torso and limbs.

Then in 1996, Terry got involved. We bought three pumpkins. One for each boy, of course Alex was too little to know or care. Terry took the boys outside to the porch and began to carve away. Ryan told him to make sure to cut the top off first and then they showed him how to take the guts out and separate the seeds. They loved playing in the slimy mess. Then each one wanted a distinct face carved. Golly, I wish I had pictures. I don’t remember precisely the faces but I remember how proud they were of their hard work.

I love this picture for so many reasons. I’ll restrain and limit myself to a few. Firstly, I see the special bond already existing between Terry and the boys, especially Matthew. The tenderness of him leaning in to kiss Terry shows his appreciation for Terry taking his time to carve pumpkins with them. Next, I love that Terry willingly involved himself in what the boys were doing. He didn’t always expect me to do it. Third, it just proves that Terry isn’t afraid to try anything. In fact, I don’t think there’s anything he can’t do, simply because he believes he can. That’s the way he rolls. One important fact to remember about Terry: he’s the professional at everything he does, at least that’s what he always tell us.

There would be other years of pumpkin carving and roasting pumpkin seeds; however, this was the first time for Terry and the boys.

In the scheme of things it’s the small stuff like this that matters the most. It’s not about the going and the doing. It’s about the being. Being available. Taking time. Being there. Love is always spelled the same way…..TIME. They will remember and so will you. Remember, time is the only thing we can never add to and once it’s gone, it doesn’t come back again.

Young parents, listen to me, the time you invest in your children while they’re young, you will never, never regret. Because all to soon they’re grown and walking out the door. In the famous words of Trace Adkins,

You’re gonna miss this 
You’re gonna want this back 
You’re gonna wish these days hadn’t gone by so fast 
These are some good times