The Times I Saw Him Cry

I’ve known him my whole entire life and in this time, I have only seen or heard him cry three times. It’s not that he has no heart. In fact, he’s got the biggest heart of anyone I know. Read here. He is the kindest, most gentle and humble man I know.

Oddly, I didn’t see him cry the day he got the call his Dad, my great-grandfather shot and killed himself. He was melancholy and I’m sure he cried. I just didn’t see him cry.

The first time I saw him cry was the day my grandmother, the love of his life died. He had stayed the night before with her and we all encouraged him to go home and get rest. He did. A few hours after his departure, Mamaw died. Kristi and I went to his house to tell him. I will never forget. We stood in his kitchen and told him the news. Tears welled up in his blue eyes and he said, ”I knew it. That was the exact time I awoke and I felt like a part of me was gone.” His words broke and tears flowed.

The second time I see him cry was the day we moved him from his house to The Bridge at Lake Point Landing. He knew it was time to go but leaving his home ripped his heart out. He.felt like the Israelites when God led them out of Egypt. How do I know this? He told me so. Read here

The third time I didn’t see him cry, I heard him cry. I called to let him know that Ned had died. As soon as the words left my lips, he asked, “How’s my little Annie?” I couldn’t answer. Then he began to weep and said, “Honey, thank you for calling but I just can’t talk to you right now.”

My tears turned to sobs and I told him, “It’s okay Popaw. I can’t talk to you either.”

The first time he cried over my grandmother, I thought my heart was going to rip in a thousand pieces and I know Kristi felt the same way. If we could’ve shouldered his grief, we would have. The second time, I felt the sadness of him being removed from all that was familiar into the unfamiliar. But the third time, I wept with him because he hurt for his little girl. As a parent, there is nothing harder than not being an to take away their pain and I knew what he was feeling, not sorrow for his loss, but sorrow for her pain.

Now, we are embarking on the journey of saying, ”goodbye” to him. We don’t know the hour or the day but the time is coming. This time, he won’t cry but I will. But here’s what I know.

Jesus is tidying up and preparing his place and when it’s all complete, he will come and take him home. This is His promise and this is what fuels my hope.

New Living Translation
” When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. ” John 14:3

Was it worth it? …..Absolutely

I’ve been avoiding this post like the plaque. A few weeks ago when God began churning my heart, I told Him, “Not now”. Yes, like I’ve said before delayed obedience is disobedience and I disobeyed.

I think as I write you will see why I avoided writing. However, the urge is so great within me, I can no longer resist.

As you know my biological father died when I was 7. He died from Melanoma and you can read some of his story in my blog post, My sweetest sorrow.

Now, we are at another crossroads with cancer. My stepfather, Ned. He was diagnosed 18 months ago with Stage 4 Atypical Non-small cell adenocarcinoma lung cancer. It sucks. I’m just not going to sugar coat anything about it.

A few months back, well technically a few years ago God began to stir this thought and idea about these two men I have had to privilege of calling Dad.

First, you must understand the first to understand the second.

Mack, my dad, had a strong enduring faith in God. He hoped beyond all hope that one day a cure for Melanoma would be discovered. Knowing full well it would not be in his lifetime, he allowed the doctors at Baptist Hospital (Wake Forest) to try new treatments on him. He was their guinea pig. His philosophy and mindset was to aid in the research and help others in the future.

Another thing to understand about my dad is that he never shied away from sharing his faith. He firmly grasped and held tight to his belief in Jesus. He had strong convictions about sharing his faith and the above picture is a treasure straight out of his Bible. His desire was to see that no one would perish without knowing Jesus. His chief goal in life.

I believe that through his death his chief goal was reached and realized. When Jesus tells us in John 15:13 “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

Bear with me while I explain.

When Mom and Ned began dating Ned wasn’t really living out a full life with Christ at the center. He had made a profession of faith but wasn’t really living a life totally reflective of Christ.

As their relationship began to grow so did his love for Jesus. Eventually leading up to his rededication. In perfect Ned style, it was not a haphazard decision, it was done with intent and passion. A decision he will tell you was the best choice he ever made aside from marrying my Mom.

The reality here is that without my dad having died, Ned may have never been able to experience the blessed life that only Jesus can give. If you ask Mack if it was worth dying for he would say, “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

—————–—————

That was the original post from September 11, 2017.

When I wrote these words, Ned was still with us and it would only be another six weeks until God would call him Home. Today marks 43 years since my Daddy has been in Heaven. In the past, this particular day has been such a painful hard day, but not today. What’s different?

My attitude. What I’ve realized with both Daddy and Ned was they were willing to embrace the process, to endure the pain to receive the victory. They both knew earth was their temporary dwelling and they both knew where they were going. Isn’t that exactly what Jesus did for us on the cross?

He soul agonized over having to endure the cross. He begged God for another way. When He knew there was no other way, He simply said, ”Not my will but yours” At this point, He embraced the process. He endured the cross. And when he spoke, ”It is finished” is His declaration of victory.

You will never get to the victory of the cross without enduring the pain and you’ll never be able to endure the pain without embracing the process.

I found this devotion in my Dad’s Bible. I wonder if it was something he had before his diagnosis or if he found it later. I don’t know the answer but what I know is that He bravely witnessed for the Lord and many lives were changed…….mine included.

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.

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.

It was some year….2018

Reflections from 2018:

  • At the end of January we bought a house in Landrum, SC
  • Amy’s track season began.
  • We moved in February with the help of family and friends.
  • Popaw became gravely ill and was put under Hopsice Care.
  • WCU Men and Women’s Track and Field Team’s won SoCon Championship
  • Alex finished his Junior year at UNC- Charloote and Amy her Sophomore year at WCU
  • Ryan transferred from Groton, CT to Goose Creek, SC and is now instructing at NNTPC (Navy Nuclear Power Training Command
  • Matthew transferred from Honolulu, HI to Goose Creek, SC and is now instructing at NNTPC but not before making a trip to Bali
  • Ryan and Matthew finally, after 5 years, are together again. For the time being, they are actually living in the same apartment. (For any of you who know these two, their personalities are like day and night. ) I’m sure it’s quite comedic at times.
  • Popaw graduated out of Hospice Care
  • Alex began his Senior year and Amy her Junior year
  • Mom sold her big house
  • On the day Ned celebrated his first year in Heaven, Mom bought a new home.
  • GE announced the sale of their lighting division. Sale is currently scheduled to take place in March or April. (Terry will have 34 years with GE March 31) We have no idea what this looks like for us; but we know God is in control.
  • Terry, my sister, Kristi and a few great friends threw a little ”surprise party” for me…..all because I turned ”50” It was a lovely surprise
  • Terry and I celebrated 24 years of marriage.
  • Christmas Eve I made dinner for my family. Our house was full and so we’re our bellies. That evening, we celebrated Terrys birthday by going out for dInner. For the first time in 5 1/2 years, our family of 6 were together.

2018 has been a year of changes and many surprises. It hasn’t always been what I had hoped or planned and in many ways its been much better.

All I know is that God has been so good to me. He has given me strength to endure things I never thought I could. He filled me with contentment when my heart was longing for more. He has given me patience to endure trials. He taught me to trust that His timing is best. Now, He has made it possible for all of my children to be within 3 1/2 hour drive.

I am truly thankful and blessed.

Looking forward to 2019 with excitement and anticipation of what’s to come.

Happy New Year!

God With Us

If we could condense all the truths of Christmas into only three words, these would be the words: “God with us.” We tend to focus our attention on Christmas on the infancy of Christ. The greater truth of the holiday is His deity. More astonishing than a baby in the manger is the truth that this promised baby is the omnipotent Creator of the heavens and the earth! John MacArthur

Think about this with me for a minute. The three words. ”God with us” or the singular word, ”Emmanuel”. The implication of these words means we have to look beyond the manager and the infant. We have to look beyond his ministry. We have to look beyond the cross, beyond and the resurrection. What do we need to look at?

We need to look to before the birth of Jesus and after the resurrection. What we need to understand is that Jesus lived in glory with God, the Father. He was the complete deity. He chose to give up his diety to come to earth. He chose to come in the form of a babe. Why? He knew there would be no other way to save us. He knew by taking human form, He could relate to us. He would endure the things we endure. He could relate to all of humanity. He could live and walk among us. The difference being He would be without sin.

So, He chose to set aside His crown and come to earth to live and walk among us.

But it didn’t stop with his birth. The child grew and grew. Then at age thirty began His ministry. For three years, he ministered to people, people like us. He didn’t turn anyone away that would listen. Money didn’t impress Him. Status didn’t mean anything to Him. People’s hearts and lives were of utmost importance to Him. He was mocked and ridiculed. He was misunderstood. Yet, His purpose was clear and He didn’t waver. He came to die.

On the cross, he bore the sin of the world. He took our punishment on himself. Interestingly, years before the prophet Isaiah penned the following words,

He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds, we are healed.”

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭53:3-5‬ ‭NIV‬‬

However, He didn’t stay on the cross, just like he didn’t stay in the manger. His broken body was wrapped and placed in a borrowed tomb. Yet again, like the manger and the cross, the tomb could not hold Him. He didn’t stay there either. On the third day, the stone was rolled away and the tomb was empty. Jesus is alive. Jesus then ascends back to His place in glory and the crown is placed back on His head.

While it is good for us to celebrate and talk about the birth of Jesus and the events surrounding His birth. Our primary focus needs to be about His deity. He is fully God and fully man. He is, ”God with us” The choice to come as a babe in a manger made that possible.


O come, O come, Emmanuel

And ransom captive Israel

That mourns in lonely exile here

Until the Son of God appear

Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel

Shall come to thee, O Israel

 

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free

Thine own from Satan’s tyranny

From depths of Hell Thy people save

And give them victory o’er the grave

Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel

Shall come to thee, o Israel

 

O come, Thou Day-Spring

Come and cheer

Our spirits by Thine advent here

Disperse the gloomy clouds of night

And death’s dark shadows put to flight

Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel

Shall come to thee, o Israel

 

O come, Thou Key of David, come

And open wide our heavenly home

Make safe the way that leads on high

And close the path to misery

Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel

Shall come to thee, o Israel

 

O come, O come, Thou Lord of might

Who to Thy tribes, on Sinai’s height

In ancient times did’st give the Law

In cloud, and majesty and awe

Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel

Shall come to thee, o Israel

 

Merry Christmas to all.

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

His Word Never Fails

Oh my goodness! How many times I’ve read this passage of the angel coming to Mary and yet this one verse, I’ve skipped dozens of times. Wow.

In the very heart of the angel speaking to Mary are the words “Gods word will never fail”. When God calls you out of your comfort zone into a scary place of the unknown, He will be with you. He will go before you and prepare the way. It doesn’t mean the path will be smooth and easy. It means that ultimately His plan for you will be carried through until completion.

Was Mary’s pregnancy expected? Absolutely not! Was her pregnancy welcomed? No! Did she hear an absolute word from God? Yes. Was He faithful to carry out what He said He would do? Absolutely.

Mary was a willing participant, even though she had no real comprehension of the vastness of Gods plan for her. She simply took the words delivered to her by the angel and said “Ok. I am willing to do whatever He asks and may things happen just as you say they will. I trust Him completely”. She couldn’t see the end or even the middle she just knew what she believed and was willing to place complete faith and trust in her belief in God.

I would love to say I trust and believe with the same veracity Mary displays; however, my faith wavers and wanes. Often times I allow my emotions to get in the way of what I know to be true.

God’s Word Never Fails……

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

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