Should I Stay or Should I Go?

A true story.

February 4, 2018, Terry and I loaded up and moved from the mountains of Hendersonville, NC to the Foothills of Landrum, SC. We moved primarily based on cost.

I fought the move. You’d have thought it would be the other way around, considering Terry was moving from his hometown and I was moving back within 8 miles of where I grew up.

There were determining factors of the fight:

  • I was afraid. (That is a story for another time.)
  • I don’t like to change. We had already been through so much with Ned’s death. I didn’t want more.
  • I really didn’t like that God was asking me to go. I knew it was the right move for us to make but I just couldn’t believe He was actually asking us to trust and go.

So, I came reluctantly and with a foul attitude.

Within the first ten days of our move, Popaw fell extremely ill and due to the move, I ended up in Hendersonville 9/10 of the time.

I kept asking God, ”Why?”

He kept saying, ”Wait.”

I cried out to Him. I cried to Terry. I bemoaned to a few of my friends. I just couldn’t shake the desire to go back home to Hendersonville.

Last fall, my Bible Study girls did ”The Armor of God” by Priscilla Shirer. In the very first week, she had us do a little exercise that truly resonated in my heart. She had us write down in a circle the most difficult person, most pressing problem and/or overwhelming circumstance. Then on the line beside the circle, we were instructed to write the words, not the real problem. This fight that was going on inside of me was not a fight against flesh and blood but a fight against the world forces of darkness, and spiritual forces in the heavenly realm. (Ephesians 6:12)

While I was beginning to understand that the real enemy was the devil himself, my heart still ached and longed to go back home. But instead of talking about it as much and crying to others, I began to spend more time crying out to God. In that time, I also wrote on a prayer card a very specific prayer.

• God, either help us sell our house and return to Hendersonville or overwhelm me with your peace here.

I prayed this prayer every day. As began to pray, I noticed my stress of being here in Landrum lessened. My heart still longed for Hendersonville, but I began to enjoy what I had here.

Then in late March, Terry got the itch. He always gets the itch. It’s rare that he stays in one place too long. ” Let’s put that house on the market and see what happens” I was haphazardly reluctant and cautiously excited, all at the same time. We’ve been there. Done that.

So, we placed a ”For Sale” sign in our front yard. We had calls and a few showings. Nothings substantially sound, until one lady came. She loved the house and left saying, ”I think this is the one for me.”

Terry was excited. I thought I was too. Then it happened, suddenly I began to feel sad. I love my house. I love our quaint neighborhood and more importantly our neighbors. I began to pray, ”God, if this is what you want, allow. It to happen.”

On Thursday, she called to say she was going to purchase the house across the street and be our neighbor. She wanted a brand new house. I was not sad. I was relieved.

Then, I got my act together and decided to list on Zillow. This proved a huge success. We had a few other showings and then an offer. The offer was ridiculously low. We went back and forth most of the day. When I realized they weren’t willing to pay the price we wanted, Terry and I agreed to take the house off the market, at least for a while.

I need to interject here to say, we could have easily taken their offer. We would have made money. However, the consideration being offered would not have been good for our neighbors and the price valuation of our neighborhood. Sometimes, it’s not about what you can put in your pocket. You have to consider others.

I am so excited we are going to stay. God has done what I began asking of Him, almost a year ago.

Is there something that is troubling your heart? If so, realize that it’s probably the enemy trying to weave and work his craftiness. Cry out to God. Be open and honest with him. Ask specifically. Pray without ceasing. Do what He tells you to do. Walk in obedience to Him. He will make your joy complete.

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……

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

A Visit With Popaw

It’s been awhile since I’ve told a story about Popaw.

First, let me give you a little health update on him. Two times this year he has been near death. However, in perfect Troy fashion, he’s rebounding and enjoying life again.

Most recently, he has been in Hospice care at The Bridge. After a few months of good loving care, his weakened body has regained strength and his suppressed appetite has been restored. This week he graduated out of Hospice care. Terry often says, “He’s a tough old bird.” I like to thing of him as a Timex: He takes a licking and keeps on ticking.

On Thursday, while visiting, I walked him to the elevator to go down for dinner. Three women with walkers were also waiting to go down. Being the gentleman, Popaw said, “Honey, we’ll just wait for the next one.”

All three women along with their gear rolled into the elevator. Once securely in they encouraged us to get in stating there was “plenty” of room for us.

Popaw was still hesitant but I convinced him there was room. He rolled walker over the threshold. The door closed and for a brief moment there was silence. Then he smiled at me and said, “I didn’t think there would be room for us with all of the these fat ladies in here”

Surprised by his comment, I stood speechless and quiet! Then I wanted to burst out laughing but knew that would be positively inappropriate, considering two of the women were rather large. Silence fell for a few moments and I was hopeful all three ladies were hearing impaired or had not heard his comment. Much to my dismay, they heard plainly.

One spoke up to say, “Did you hear what he just said? He called us fat! I don’t think I like him anymore”

Now I really had to keep myself contained and not burst into a fit of laughter. As I was trying, with all my might, to remain composed and stoic, another lady spoke up and said, “Well, I guess he was just talking about the two of us because the one in the back is as skinny as a rail.”

The elevator came to a halt and Popaw turned to them with a twinkle in his eye and a smile on his face and said, “I knew that would keep things lively.”

The doors opened and we all disbursed.

I kissed him goodbye as he went into the dining hall. As I walked away I thought, “I guess you can get away with saying just about anything when you get old.”

Later that evening, I replayed our visit that day. We had talked about a lot a things but near the end of our conversation he began to talk about Colleen and how much he missed her. “It’s hard to believe she’s been gone for eight years. You know, time is a funny thing. In some ways it moves so fast and other ways it seems to drag on.” Quite frankly, I am glad that his life continues to drag on because it gives me precious moments like these to spend time with him.

A loss of innocence

A “loss of innocence” is a common theme in fiction, pop culture, and realism. It is often seen as an integral part of coming of age. It is usually thought of as an experience or period in a child’s life that widens their awareness of evil, pain or suffering in the world around them.

I’m just going to go ahead and give you fair warning.  This whole subject makes me want to curl up and cry like a baby. Honestly, I have a time or two.

I’m not sure at what age I realized that my life wasn’t normal and did not look anything like others my age.  I think my awareness began long before it should have.  I know by the time I was four, I was keenly aware things were not like my peers.

By the time I was one, my mom discovered a hideous mole on my dads back.  She encouraged him to have it checked out.  He did and it was malignant.  Melanoma. They removed a large portion around the perimeter of the mole. The portion was so large, it looked like a crater to me.  My little hand fit in the crevice of the dug out space.

Getting clear margins and feeling hopeful, the doctor said, “All should be well if you see no signs within 2 years.”

Nearing the end of the 2 years, another spot appeared.  This time, the cancer had spread.  Chemo would be necessary.  Considering the year was 1972, the best facility for treatment was at Baptist Hospital (aka Wake Forest Medical Center) in Winston Salem, NC.

Thus the journey began.

An entire week, every month, my dad would go for treatment.  Sometimes we would go but not often.  My dads brothers were gracious enough to take turns driving him and picking him up.

In addition, my aunt and uncle who lived in Winston helped with his care as well.  Days turned into weeks and weeks into years.

His body was worn and beaten.  He allowed them to try new treatment drugs on him in hopes to help others, not himself. He knew his time was coming to an end and so did I.

I think my mom tried as best she could to keep life as normal as she could but let’s be real, how many 5-6 year olds do you know whose parent is on chemo and gone for a week every month?  I didn’t know any at the time.  Not one of my friends and I’m not even sure they knew or understand how different my life was than theirs.

I learned, even then, to pretend that I was tough and strong. I could be like the others. You know, “fake it till you make it”. All the while, the voices in my head were screaming, “You’re different, You’re not like them.”

Then it happened, during a routine eye exam in Kindergarten, my teacher discovered I was not seeing 20/20. She informed my Mom. Mom took me first to an optometrist who had no couth told me I needed glasses pronto.. In fact, he was such a nice guy, Mom and I both left the office in tears.

Fortunately, we were given another recommendation and that’s when we met Dr. Gleaton. Not only did he have a terrific personality and calming nature, he also explained the necessity of glasses. Unlike the previous bully, he told me I had a “lazy eye” and would need to wear a patch over my good eye to strengthen the lazy one. By the time we left his office, I felt good about having glasses. Until I actually wore them for the first time.

Oh, the sneers and jeers. The jabs. The taunts. The snickers. I sat on the bank with tears streaming for what seemed like hours. Day after day. It made me see how cruel this world can really be and I was just six.

Now the voices were louder and eviler than before. Not only did I feel different. I felt unattractive, unworthy and yes, even unloved.

Here I was a kindergartner with a dying father and now being made fun of because I had to wear glasses with a patch.

Want to know what I learned? It’s called stuffing. Yep, just hide what you really feel and pretend you don’t care, even if your heart is being ripped to shreds.

On one hand, my father was sick and dying. I saw the cruelty of the disease stripping away his energy and zest for life. I saw how the chemo weakened his strong body. I had no one I could talk to, no one who understood. I don’t even know if anyone had any idea how aware I was.

Then my friends basically turned their backs on me., except one. It was just plain hard being a six year old for me.

Do you know what that year at the tender age of six created? A little thing called insecurity, which actually isn’t so little at all. Insecurity has followed me most of my life. There have been times when I’ve felt less insecure than others; but it’s always there, lurking about, waiting to pounce like a lion.

I have these voices that tell me time and again:

  • You’re not good enough
  • You’ll never be pretty enough
  • You’ll never escape your past
  • You are not worthy

What I’ve learned over the past 26 years, is that these voices will come but they don’t linger very long. I have weapons to fight against them now. I have the voice of truth echoing in my ear:

  • You are God’s workmanship (Ephesians 3:20)
  • You are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14
  • You are forgiven and free (John 3:16)
  • I paid a very high price for you and I say you are worthy (I Corinthians 6:20)

A loss of innocence at such a young age has always been a challenge for me. There was a point several years back when I heard or read something to the effect that it is important to grieve the loss of innocence when it’s been stripped from you. I’d never really contemplated the need to grieve over what was taken from me as a child; however, the more I thought about what was lost, the more I realized I needed to grieve. By taking time to grieve, it has given me some real insight to how this substantial loss has influenced and affected many areas of my life. A life that God is in the process of helping me break free

The power of music: using your giftedness for His glory

When I was little, I always loved to hear my Mom sing. Many folks have said, “she has the voice of an angel” or “she sounds like Julie Andrews”. From as far back as I can remember, she sang. She sang in the choir, sang solos and then sang with an ensemble group while we lived in Columbus, NC and then sang with DayStar, the group that Ned was instrumental in starting.

There are a few specific songs, over the years, that really standout when I think about her singing. The first is a medley of “Turn your eyes upon Jesus” and “It took a miracle”. Now, the first song is probably the more familiar song. The chorus line is “Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full is his wonderful face and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace”. This song in particularly deals with the depravity of the weary soul and the recognition that Gods word will not fail and as we learn to gaze upon Him, the things we hold onto will becomes less important as He becomes more important.

The other song may not be as familiar. The first verse of the song and chorus are as follows, “My Father is omnipotent and that you can’t deny. A God of might and miracles ”tis written in the sky. It took a miracle to put the the stars in place. It took a miracle to hang the world in space: But when He saved my soul, cleansed and made me whole, it took a miracle of love and grace”. This song references the almighty power of God. Recognizing He is the creative genius behind everything in this world but also that the His greatest miracle is birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus because that is how our souls are cleansed and set free.

By putting these two songs into a medley, it shows our deepest human needs are met when we rely and trust fix our gaze upon Him. When we do this, we see His might, His power and we know that it truly took a miracle of love and completely underserved grace to set our souls free.

You see, my Mom would need to know and understand these things while she was walking the journey of Melanoma with my dad. She would need these truths to carry her through. She would need these truths to rear three children, two of them rebels. She would need these truths to help administer care to her parents and she desperately needed the truth of these two great Hymns to get her through the past two years.

There is another song, that sticks in my head every time I think of Mom singing. It is “He’s Been Faithful”.Lyrics here. This was a song DayStar had in their program. Mom would open the song by talking about how she had learned God’s faithfulness through the loss of my dad. Again, if you look at the song as whole, it relates specifically to realizing that while we will go through difficulties in our lives His faithfulness to us is always there. He is always there. She has needed the truth of these words over the past three months, like never before. She has needed to see Jesus’ love and faithfulness. Guess what? She has. So have I. I have seen it through the deep love of cherished friends. Friends who go the extra mile for her. I have seen it on full display from Pastor Steve, Wally and precious Jimmy Cobb, who visits my Popaw every week. Yes indeed, she has experienced this firsthand and I have had the privilege of watching it unfold.

Music is powerful. It is effective and it touches and reaches places of the heart that mere words cannot. I am so thankful that God gifted Mom with such an extravagant gift and I’m grateful she used it for His glory. Through the songs she has sung over the years, I see the faithfulness of God in her life. Thank you, Mom, you’re a priceless treasure and a true gift. Happy birthday.

An Unforgettable Life

I always say that when you believe in God, there is no such thing as coincidence. Everything is ordered and ordained by God, including discovering my Senior writing project from 1987. I found it yesterday and I know that it’s what I am suppose to share with you today.

A little back story before I get to the rewriting my story from 1987. I dearly love my Mom. She and I are not what some mothers and daughters are. We are not besties. We never have been. She always desired to be my best friend but we have always been vastly different. However, that doesn’t mean we’re not close. I would do anything for my Mom and she would do the same for me. I have a vivid memory. It’s scary sometimes. I remember vividly when my Mom was pregnant with my brother and when my dad died. I remember hearing her cry at night, when she thought I was sleeping. I felt her grief and agony when Daddy died. I had to be strong. I had to be brave. I had to hide my tears because I knew my tears would bring her more grief.

Doing this project during my Senior year of high school, really helped me express and release a lot of feelings I harbored and stuffed over the years. While this did not bring ultimate healing for my heartbreak over losing my Dad, it helped start the process.

I am now 49 years old, I turned in the final draft on May 18, 1987.

An Unforgettable Life

By Kelly Reese

I can remember back thirteen years ago when I was carrying my third child.  Many sleepless and restless nights, I lay crying for fear of my baby’s birth and my husband’s death.  Yes, it is still very clear in my mind.

When I first felt the flutters in my stomach, I ignored them.  Then the weeks and months passed, and the fluttering was still there.  My mother said, “Ann, you are crazy if you think that you are pregnant.  There is no way.  You are just overworked and tired from Mack’s illness.”  So I decided that she was right, until I went to the doctor.

The doctor informed me that I was over three months pregnant.  I was terrified.  “What will I tell Mack?  What will he say?” were my thoughts.  I hoped that it was just a dream, but it wasn’t.  When I told Mack the news, I wept frantically.  He put his strong arms around me and looked at me with his big blue eyes and said, “Don’t worry, God will take care of us.  God has given us a gift.  He has a purpose for this baby.”  His reassurance and understanding gave me temporary relief; however, I was still scared to death.  I was more frightened my husband would die before the baby was born.

For three months I cried, until I finally accepted the fact that this baby was coming regardless of what I wanted or how I felt.  Mack was always supportive, although his condition worsened.  The girls helped as much as they could.

My oldest daughter, Kelly, was six at the time.  She knew that her father was dying and seemed to understand why.  In fact, sometimes I think she understood more than I gave her credit.  Maybe she understood even more than I did.

At the end of the nine months, the baby finally arrived and Mack was still alive.  The night before David’s birth was restless and uncomfortable.  I knew the baby wasn’t going to wait much longer.  It was almost as if he were saying, “Mommy, it’s time for me to live in this world, but I’m scared.”  The next morning I had to go to the doctor. Immediately, he sent me to the hospital.  That afternoon, June 23, 1975 fireworks could have exploded, even though, it was the 4th of July, as excitement and jubilation filled the room.

After cleaning the baby, the doctor brought him to me.  I asked, “What is it?”  The doctor refused my plea and handed my the baby wrapped in a blanket.  “Find out for yourself, ” he said.  With Mack by my side, I carefully unwrapped the small bundle of joy, and to my great surprise it was a little boy.  I cautiously glanced at Mack, who stood with tears in his eyes, as he said, “I told you God had a plan.  I may die before morning, but at least I know I have a son.”  His joy in trusting God made me feel ashamed of my reactions before David’s birth, and I began to cry.  Then I looked at the baby, and he looked at me with glowing blue eyes as if he were saying, “Mommy, I know how you felt, but you love me now.”  And I did love that miracle in my arms.

The months passed quickly and David grew strong and healthy as Mack grew weak and frail.  David’s birth brought such joy into our lives along with many changes.  The girls helped me take care of him and Mack as much as they could.

Mack became weaker and weaker.  The doctors knew his time was drawing near.  But Mack wouldn’t give up without a fight for his life.  He knew that he couldn’t change the circumstances or make them go away, but he refused to give into death.

Seven weeks before his death we were taking a trip to Baptist Hospital in Winston-Salem.  After arriving, Mack’s legs began to get weak.  By the time the nurse arrived to take him to his room, he was paralyzed.  They kept him in Winston-Salem for the next week; then upon his request, moved him to Pardee Hospital in Hendersonville.

I spent many hours traveling back and forth to the hospital, taking the children at least five times a week to visit him.  In fact the visited him the night before he died.  Evidently he knew he wouldn’t see them any more because he told the children how much he loved them.

The next morning I left early for the hospital.  When I arrived, I knew that it wasn’t going to long, especially when I heard Mack saying things that did make sense.  Then with those radiant blue eyes he looked at me and said, “I hope that one day they will find a cure, but it won’t be while I’m alive.  I love you, Ann.”

Mack died on April 5, 1976; he was thirty-six year old.  David was nine months old. Later in the day,  I thought, “Lord, I’m too young to be widowed and left with three small children.”  Then I remembered what Mack told me, “With faith in God, miracles can happen.” I turned around teary-eyed and watched my little miracle sleeping soundly in his crib, knowing that my husband was right.

After two years I remarried; but since the beginning of my last pregnancy, I have had an unforgettable life

Give me a few days to gather my thoughts and I will share what I had to say about the man who raised me and I call “Unforgettable”

The Proposal and the Wedding

The Proposal and Wedding

“Ephesians 5:31Amplified Bible (AMP)

31 For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother and shall be joined [and be faithfully devoted] to his wife, and the two shall become [a]one flesh.

If memory serves correctly, the closing on the house was on December 7th.  Thanksgiving came and went without a proposal.  Needless to say, I was slightly disappointed.  However, the Sunday after Thanksgiving, I was talking my sister on the phone and she asked, “When are you getting married?”  I told her that I was clueless and she asked to talk to Terry.

After a few minutes, Terry handed the phone back to me and she was screaming, “Oh my gosh, you’re getting married December 17th!!!”  Stunned and a little confused, I said, “Really?  He hasn’t even asked me, but he’s already set the date?  Ok!”

So I get off the phone and Terry says, “Well I had to give her a date because she’s coming home from Texas and she wanted to plan her trip around our wedding.”

“Maybe he’s not going to ask the old-fashioned way and maybe he’s not even giving me a ring.”  I thought silently.  Oddly, I was ok with that.

The following weekend was my birthday, but I was already committed for the weekend performances of the Messiah; so any celebrating had to wait.

On Monday Terry asked if I would go eat with him at Red Lobster.  As we drove to Greenville, our plans for the wedding were coming together (yes still without an official proposal).  We were going to have a small family wedding in the chapel at First Baptist.

We finished our meal and ordered dessert, as we were finishing, Terry moved his right hand across the table and turned his hand over, revealing a diamond ring he was wearing on his pinky finger. Oh the elation and excitement, I thought my heart would pop out of my chest.  Then, he asked, “Will you marry me?”  By now, several other patrons realized what was happening, so of course, all eyes and ears were on me.  “Of course I’ll marry you.”

And so it was settled…ring and all…December 17, 1994

Obviously, we didn’t leave ourselves much time to prepare or plan. The good news was that Mom had frozen a ton of leftover goodies from my sister’s wedding in April.  We decided that we were not going to have anything elaborate.  It was the second time for both of us.

The Chapel at First Baptist Hendersonville would serve us well.  The perfect place for a small gathering of family.  Immediate family only.  We had to draw the line somewhere.  Keep in mind that Terry comes from a large family.  His Mom and Dad had 6 children and Terry was the baby.  All of his siblings were married and had at least one child, at the time.

Besides, we couldn’t just pick out a few friends and not invite the whole lot of them.  We would hurt people’s feelings.  We just had no cut-off point.  Aside from that, we were funding the wedding ourselves.  My parents had already paid for one large shindig.  We had just purchased a house.  I was only working part-time.  We just couldn’t justify spending a ton of money we didn’t have.

Our plans were made and everything was coming together.  Anticipation and excitement filled the air.  But wait…..a honeymoon.  This discussion would become another source of contention between us.

Keep in mind, we were getting married only a week prior to Christmas and going somewhere for an entire week was out of the question.  Terry kept saying let’s wait and we could just do a honeymoon later.  I didn’t like that idea.  Kristi had been telling me about the cottages in Gatlinburg.  When I checked pricing, Terry erupted in an emphatic, “NO!  We are not spending that kind of money for a few days.”  Disappointment set in.  Again, I knew better than to pitch a hissy fit and cry.  I wouldn’t get my way.  I just sucked it up and decided I would be ok with waiting.

Then it happened.  Clear out of the blue.  The Sunday evening before our wedding we were sitting in church waiting for Pastor Steve to preach.  We sat beside Andy and Alice Lawson.  Alice was a former English teacher at Hendersonville High School.  Yes, one of Terry’s former teachers.  She loved him.  Her sweet husband Andy, a Nationwide Insurance Agent.

Alice put her hand on Terry’s knee, patting it gently and said, “We are so delighted to hear about your impending wedding.  We are just thrilled for you both.”  We graciously thanked her and then she leaned into Terry’s ear and asked, “Do you and Kelly like the beach?”
“We love the beach.” he replied.

“Do you have honeymoon plans?  I know your engagement has been short-lived.” she inquired.

He responded, “No, actually we don’t have any plans.”

Instantly, she leaned over Terry and spoke directly to both of us, “Andy and I wanted to do something for you.  We have a townhouse in Murrells Inlet and we would like for you to go stay there for your honeymoon.  We will get the keys to you this week. ”

If I had any doubts, they suddenly disappeared.  I knew we were doing the right thing and I knew, while our timing was questioned by some, was the best time for us.

The day before the wedding, I made one change.  I called Pastor Steve and told him we were going to add one more song.  I felt very compelled to sing the song, “I see Jesus in you”.

I awakened the next morning to a brilliant Carolina blue sky and sunshine in my eyes.  A flutter of joy in my heart and a little skip in my step.  It was going to be a great day. It was, after all, our wedding day.

Last year I asked Terry a question I’d pondered for awhile.  “You were so certain I would say “yes” to your proposal that you planned the date of our wedding before you asked me.  What would you have done if I’d said “No!”?

He replied, “It never really crossed my mind.  I don’t know.  I guess I would’ve been sad and had to take the ring back.  I’m so glad it didn’t happen that way.”

No doubt it’s been the best decision I made for myself and my two precious boys 23 years ago today.

The lyrics to the song I sang go as follows:  I see Jesus in your eyes and it makes me love you.  I hear Jesus in your voice and it makes me listen and I trust you with my life because you’re his.  I see Him in you….”

This is far from the end of our story.  This is only the beginning……

Hope and Expectation….Our Story Continued

One call led to another and plans were made for the following weekend for Terry to come over to my parents’ house and have dinner. However, this was not a date, a singles gathering had already been planned and he agreed to show up.

The night was full of fun and laughter. He lingered after the other guests left. During the course of that conversation, I learned he knew more about me than he initially disclosed. In fact, he had seen me before I ever met him personally.

He told me that during Christmas with his family, they were watching the newly taped version of the Messiah we had done that year. While watching the TV screen, he saw me, pointed me out to his sister and asked, “Who’s that girl?” So, Marie proceeded to tell him that I was divorced and had two little boys.

There were two things that amazed me from learning this from Terry. The first was that he actually picked me out of the crowd and pointed to me on the tv screen. (Keep in mind we were dressed in full period costume, even our heads were covered.) All he could really see was my face. The second thing that struck me was that after learning I was divorced and had two children, he still had an interest in meeting me.

When he left that evening, I found myself beginning to wonder if he would call again. There had been no hint of affection during the evening, but there was no indication that he had been turned off either. The next couple of days, I found myself rushing to answer the phone every time it rung, especially late in the evening. I was elated when I heard his voice on the other; however I didn’t allow my excitement to exude into our conversation. I maintained complete composure, almost to the point I had myself convinced it was no big deal….but it was.

The following Sunday night we decided that he would come over and I would cook for him. You know, they say the best way to a man’s heart it through his tummy. This would be his first encounter with my dad and also the first time since our outing to the park that he would have some time with the boys. As the events of the evening unfolded, it still amazes me that he came back.

Our normal Sunday evening routine was going to church and coming home afterward for a light snack supper, usually consisting of popcorn, chips, crackers, etc. After the initial painless introduction to my dad, it seemed the evening go off without a hitch. Until my dad realized that I was cooking and were off the norm, suddenly he began ranting and raving about how we didn’t cook on Sunday night and he wasn’t the least bit happy that I was cooking. Not only was I embarrassed, but felt certain that after that evening Terry would never show up on my doorstep again. Fortunately, the remainder of the evening turned out well. (Terry will give his version of this story because this is how Ned became known as Nitro)

The next day was Valentine’s Day and I had no expectation of talking to much less seeing Terry after Sunday evening; however, around 6 pm he called to ask if he could come by after work. Now after work for him was 11:30 because he was working second shift at the time. After the evening before, I wasn’t about to say no. So around 11:30 he showed up with a smile on his face and hands behind his back like a child trying to hide candy from his mother. As subtly as he could, he took the package from behind his back to reveal heart-shaped sugar cookies that he had picked up from Ingles.

“Happy Valentine’s Day. I didn’t a chance to get anything for you, so I thought I would at least bring you some cookies.” He said rather awkwardly, as if embarrassed by his gift.

“Thank you but I really didn’t expect anything you really didn’t have to bring anything.” I replied. Silence fell and it was almost a deafening silence. Suddenly I realized how foolish my statement had been to him. Why couldn’t I have just said a simple thank you? So, I tried to explain away the reason for my reply. Fortunately my explanation seemed to appease him.

We would spend the next few hours talking about our past relationships, hurts and hang-ups. Finally, I was growing weary and knew that early morning was coming quickly. So, we said our goodbyes and he headed out the door. I followed behind to lock the door.(more to come)

Laugh….Cry….Have one heck of a day!

Last night I went to Hendersonville First Baptist Church to hear their Christmas musical. I already had plans to attend but after an earnest plea on Facebook looking for a church whose music ministry might be performing a Children’s Christmas musical, I discovered that this musical was multi-generational.  Children, youth and adults all come together and sing together.  I was excited.

On Wednesday I asked Mom if she wanted to go with me and my friend Tima.  She said, “Sure.”  My heart was happy she wanted to go too.

Excitement and elation filled my thoughts throughout the day. It had been a long time since I went to any musical.  In fact, probably the last Christmas musical was one my children and I participated in at Biltmore Baptist Church 11 years ago.  The last Christmas Children’s Musical was “Mayhem in Bethlehem” presented at BBC 11 years ago.

Joy filled my heart as those precious children sang.  So filled with wonder and awe, the joy beamed from their faces into the crowd.  The innocence of youth. Lifting their voices high with praise to God.

As I sat there and listened, I wasn’t prepared for what happened next.  I looked up through the Adult Choir and I saw him standing there.  Tall and proud to be a part of it all.  Ned.  There he was.  Only he wasn’t there.  Instead of him being in his familiar spot, his friend and prayer partner Jim was there.  It was at that point I realized the sides had shifted.  The bases and altos now sat where the tenor and sopranos sat and vice versa.  I realized as the night wore on, it didn’t matter how the seating arrangement was.  He was there or at least I could see him.

As the evening drew to a close, Karen Scoggins along with the choir sang “Amazing Grace”  Now, if you’ve never heard her sing, trust me, she’s got pipes.  This dainty precious soul can sing.

I knew Mom was crying.  I didn’t dare look.  Our friend, Linda, reached over to console her.  Tima had her hand on her shoulder.  Still I dared not look.  Tears were already starting to form and I knew I might not be able to control them.  As the final verse started, Mom was holding Linda’s hand and said, “I know where he is and I know I’m going to see him again,”  Well, great.  Thanks Mom.  Tears festered and started to fall softly.  Finally I glanced over in her direction and said, “Did you not bring any Kleenex?”

“No, I didn’t” She replied.

Linda asked if everything was ok.  I told her we didn’t have Kleenex.  She offered her scarf.

As the last song started, I began thinking about Mamaw and I began to smile then chuckle. I had to control myself from laughing out load.  That’s about as difficult as keeping the tears from free-falling.  For those of you who know me, I laugh a lot.  Sometimes I squirrel laugh, that’s what my kids call it and sometimes I just laugh hard and loud; of course, according to Ned, nothing about me was ever quiet.  Why was I having to fight hard to keep from laughing hysterically?  Because I could just hear my precious Mamaw (Colleen) saying to me and mom, “You dummies!  What do you mean coming without bringing Kleenex?”

You see, my grandmother, well she was always prepared for the best and the worst.  She had Kleenex in every purse she owned and in about every pocket of every coat she owned.  She also had other things too, like certs, certs and more certs, tylenol, Advil, cough drops……you name it she had it.  Obviously, mom or I neither one takes after her.

Jimmy Valvano says, ” If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special.”

Well, these days I’ve been doing a lot of laughing and crying.  I’m not pretending it’s not raw and I’m not pretending it’s easy when you lost someone you love, especially around the holiday season.  What I am telling you that for everything there is a season and that’s what God’s word says.

Ecclesiastes 3 suns it up beautifully:

There is an occasion for everything, and a time for every activity under heaven: a time to give birth and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to uproot; a time to kill and a time to heal; a time to tear down and a time to build; a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance; a time to throw stones and a time to gather stones; a time to embrace and a time to avoid embracing; a time to search and a time to count as lost; a time to keep and a time to throw away; a time to tear and a time to sew; a time to be silent and a time to speak; a time to love and a time to hate; a time for war and a time for peace.

I have seen the task that God has given the children of Adam to keep them occupied. He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also put eternity in their hearts, but no one can discover the work God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice and enjoy the good life. It is also the gift of God whenever anyone eats, drinks, and enjoys all his efforts. I know that everything God does will last forever; there is no adding to it or taking from it. God works so that people will be in awe of him. Whatever is, has already been, and whatever will be, already is. However, God seeks justice for the persecuted.”

‭‭Ecclesiastes‬ ‭3:1-8, 10-15‬ ‭CSB‬‬