Pardon for the Interruption

Do interruptions cause friction in your body, you just grow tense and every muscle stiffens and you become irritated and angry? Or do you welcome interruptions and see them as opportunities?

Would love to say the latter is how I typically handle interruptions but if I’m being honest, I genuinely disdain interruptions. I get so hyper-focused on what I’m doing and want to get ’er done.

As I’ve grown up, I have learned to become more flexible. Let’s face it when you raise four kids and have a husband whose middle name is ”spontaneity”, you have to learn not to get too irritated or behave irrationally by some minor ”We interrupt this show to bring you an important….”

What if that break in the action is actually important? What if that crying baby is awakened by fever and needs attention? What if your spouse just needs you to talk to them? What if that child needs advice and they’re coming to you and not running to other sources? What if that friend has had a rotten, horrible day and just needs to vent? Or what if the greatest decision your child could ever make, rests solely on your willingness to excuse the interruption and make the best of it?

I have always, not always, but more than 3/4 of my life, an early riser. I like to get up early. My mind is most clear and I always like to spend time praying and reading my Bible before the pitter-patter of little feet let me know the zoo was up and showtime was beginning. There was only one problem, Alex. He was always an early riser. I couldn’t complain much because he would go to bed early. I learned to navigate by getting up slightly earlier than him. Most days it worked out fine. I would be finishing up and he would come to sit on my lap for morning snuggles.

One morning he arose particularly early, I had barely poured a cup of coffee before he comes and hops in my lap. I thought he was drifting off to sleep. I reached down to grab my Bible and he said, “Mom, I want to ask Jesus into my heart.”

My heart skipped a beat as I asked, “Do you want to do it now?”

“Yes.” He answered

And so right there in the solace of the early daylight hours, Alex asked Jesus into his heart. The most important interruption of my life.

The next time something threatens to interrupt your already scheduled program, remember, it’s quite possibly a divine intervention.

The Best Thirty-Six Hours

Our day began by taking Amy to Southern Manners for breakfast. Terry can’t handle the pressure and decides to order a large, fresh cinnamon roll.

After breakfast, we came home and packed our bags. Helped Amy get her car.loaded and took off in different directions. Amy heading back to school for her final hooray. Terry and I headed to Charlotte.

About four months or so ago Terry announced, ”America is playing in Charlotte and we are going. I’ve already bought tickets. Spared no expense and got us great seats.”

After checking in to the Hilton Garden Inn, we ventured out for a little snack. About two blocks up from the hotel we.saw.this French bakery and cafe, Amelias.

It certainly did not disappoint in ambiance and flavor. Food was excellent and reasonably priced for the quality.

After a little rest, we trekked back to Epicenter to check out Blackfinn. Our waitress, Jessie, took our drink order. While waiting, the manager, who we saw upon arrival came by our table. Terry started talking to him about his hat. And he asked,

”So, do I have to grow a beard like yours to wear a hat like that.”

He laughed and said, ”Yes but you want to try it on?”

Next thing I knew Terry had the hat on his head and Zach is introducing himself to us.

We decided on a couple of appetizers, fried deviled eggs and shrimp and crab dip. Both get a thumbs up. Tasty and delicious.

Jessie suggested we ride the Lynx to NoDa and go to Haberdish. Then take a Lyft from there to the concert.

I am a huge fan of public transportation in big cities. It’s the best and most efficient way to travel, in my humble opinion.

When we arrived at Haberdish, we looked over the menu but weren’t able to commit to any food, except another appetizer. This time we chose, Biscuits and Bacon Jelly.

Again, we were not disappointed in the least. Well, maybe a little disappointed that we couldn’t find room for their food. The atmosphere proved to be stellar as well and rest assured, we will make a return visit there.

Our Lyft delivered us safely to the Ovens Auditorium. We had about thirty minutes before the opening act. Terry went off to the bathroom and I sat down beside this couple.

As you know, I’m not usually lacking for words so I struck up a conversation with them. By the time Terry returned and we all were conversing we learned that he was Dale Earnhardts personal barber, Steve Ellsworth (look him up)!

Finally, it was showtime!

The opening act, Michael Tracy, out of Charlotte! To be honest, he is definitely worth a listen. I was uncertain at first but after his thirty-minute opening act, I was sold.

Then after a.thirty minute intermission,

America brought the house down. Their opening song, ”Tin Man.” Can I just interject, from start to finish, they entertained and rocked the crowd? By all appearances, it was a sold-out performance. To he honest, we had such good seats,

I couldn’t see the whole balcony.

When Terry said the seats were primo; he was being truthful. We were literally five rows from the stage and our seats were in the center!

After playing for a solid hour and a half the concert ended with ”A Horse With No Name” Absolutely the best song to end on.

Our Lyft driver came promptly and transported us back to our hotel.

This morning we decided to venture out to the Epicenter for breakfast. We chose the Red Eye Diner. A classic breakfast. Good and reasonably priced,

We left the hotel and ventured.to the Billy Graham Library

A place I’ve itched to go for years!

Again, it did not disappoint. Truthfully, it was the cream of the crop.

From the time we entered until the time of our departure, there was a quiet calming peace, indescribable.

If I gleaned nothing else, the simplicity of. the message Billy Graham always preached spoke to the heart of millions. He never took away from or added to the Gospel.message. Jesus, born of a Virgin, came.to save! We are all sinners. Today is the day of your salvation. You are not promised tomorrow. Today is the day of salvation. What a magnificent proclamation of the Gospel!

If I could sum up those thirty-six hours of our lives, I would say ”Amazing and some of the best of our married lives.”

A perfect city view from our hotel window

A Little Ray of Sunshine

One of my most memorable times of her laughing so hard she had all of us about in tears and not just the eye tears but the leg tears as well.

We lived on a cul-de-sac and would often go walking in the evenings. Our dog, Duchess, the smelly but rather cute Basset Hound, would often follow us. She didn’t need a leash because when she would tire, she’d simply walk lazily back home and wait for us.

Anyway, this particular day, as we were completing our stroll, Duchess somehow managed to get behind Mawmaw and knock her flat on her rump.

Mom and I immediately checked to see if she was okay. She said she was and one of us, I can’t recall who, stuck out a hand to help her get up.

Apparently, the outstretched hand was funny to her because she started cackling. Every time one of us tried to help her, she laughed harder and harder. She laughed so hard, she became inaudible. The more she laughed the more we laughed.

I couldn’t tell you how long we stood out around the cul-de-sac laughing but finally Ned or Popaw one came out and had to lift her from behind to get her up because she couldn’t stop laughing long enough to be pulled up.

Of all the special gifts she had, and there were many more, her.laugher was truly one of her best gifts. Her uncanny ability to just make you feel special because her laughter made you feel good about being you.

She was always a little ray of sunshine on a cloudy day.

Thank you, Mawmaw for teaching me about the gift of laughter!

Oh, Well

I’m not precisely certain when Popaw began using the phrase, ”Oh, well” but it was definitely within the last few years of his life. Fortunately, Popaw retained his mental faculties, with the exception of being able to recall what he had eaten. When asked he would often respond, ”I can’t recall but I know it was good because I cleaned my plate.”

But this phrase, ”Oh, well” had multiple meanings for him. He used it when he couldn’t conjure up a response. He often used it when he would hear something he didn’t necessarily like hearing. But most often used to mean, ” It’s okay. I am satisfied.” In other words, Popaw simply took the cards he was dealt and played them out. He knew where he was going and was content until the end.

Of all the times I heard him use the phrase, these two times will stand out above the rest.

That was a hard day for me and my Mom. The call came around 9:30 am and by the time I got to The Bridge, they had him sitting in his lift chair. At first game, he looked calm. He recognized me but his speech was muffled and difficult to understand. After a few short minutes, he began fidgeting in the chair and aggressively attempting to get up. But there was a problem, he couldn’t walk. The stroke had affected his ability to walk and he couldn’t comprehend.

It took hours of sitting by his chair with my arm held up to gently nudge him back down. Over and over again, Mom and I would tell him, ”You’ve had a stroke. You can’t get up. Your legs don’t work anymore.”

Finally, the meds arrived, and once they got into his system, he was able to calm down. Once calm, his speech was clearing and his mind was less foggy. His irrational behavior had subsided. Although there were times he would want to get up and go to the bathroom. Again I would firmly explain that he had a stroke and couldn’t walk. Finally, we reached a conjuncture with him and he understood precisely what I was saying. He looked at me with a smile so soft and tender, I could’ve cried, and said, ”Oh, well.”

The following morning I stopped in briefly to check on him. Mom had gone home after a night of restless sleeping there with him. A sitter was with him until 2:00. As soon as I walked in the door, a smile spread across his face from ear to ear and he lit up at the sight of me. He beamed. ”Hey Sweetheart, it’s so good to see you.”

I leaned over, kissed him on the cheek and said, ” It’s so good to lay eyes on you this morning.”

We chatted for a few minutes then I kissed him goodbye, assuring him I would see him later in the day. Little did I know that would be our final conversation.

The sitter, as I was leaving, said, ”You must be someone really special because I’ve never seen anyone’s eyes light up the way his just did for you.”

”Not really, I’m just his granddaughter. He’s that way with all of his family. ”

Upon my return, things had gotten progressively worse and they were having to medicate him more often. I knew deep in my heart where things were heading.

The next morning there was a horrible rain and wind storm. Terry and I had to wait until 11:00 am before we could leave for Hendersonville. Popaw wasn’t any better and I knew something had to be done. (It’s a story for another time)

Finally, by 5:15, I received a call from Hospice informing me they would be coming to pick Popaw up by 6:00 and transport him to the Elizabeth House. I was alone with him when the news came to me and he was restless.

I put my hand over his heart and said, ”Popaw, the ambulance is coming to get you soon and they will be taking you to the Elizabeth House. We are taking you there so you can be made comfortable.”

He turned his eyes toward mine and said, ”Oh, well.”

I wanted to laugh and cry all at once. I knew what that ”Oh, well” meant. It is well with my soul.

”Popaw, I love you.”

”I love you back.”

Those would be the last words he would say to me!

Popaw, thank you for teaching me that life isn’t about the things, it’s about being content in all circumstances knowing that God is in complete control.

When I Prayed for Patience God Gave Me Alex

I distinctly remember one of Mom’s friends who always said, ”Be careful what you pray for because God will answer. I prayed for patience and God gave me twins.”

Since I’ve already established the fact that I am one of those, it should come as no surprise that in my mid-twenties I began praying for patience. It truly was the one thing I felt I got the short end of the stick on. So, I began praying for patience a few months before Terry and I got married.

When we had been married about six months, Terry looked at me and said, ”Let me tell you something, if you and I are going to have kids together we need to do it soon. I am not going to be a sixty-year-old man raising a teenager.”

So, that settled that and within a few months, I was pregnant.

Overall, the pregnancy was easy. We had a slight hiccup when I was around thirty weeks and they discovered I had placenta previa. It’s actually how we found out that Alex was a boy because they had to do several ultrasounds to make sure the placenta moved up; otherwise, a c-section would be needed. Fortunately, it moved and Alex came the natural way.

He was an easy baby. He wasn’t fussy. Slept through the night before he was two months old. He was quite the rambunctious toddler and required a lot of adult supervision because he was like a little Houdini, and could wrangle his way out of any contraption including his ultra-expensive car seat.

But then, after Amy was born, he turned into a ball of fury. At times, he was uncontrollable and unmanageable and the problem was you never knew when he would fit into these fits of rage. We tried the normal punishment like timeouts and spanking. They were not useful or productive. Most of the time, it only made him angrier. In fact, there were times, I literally had to sit down on the floor and hold his hands and feet until he calmed down.

This was not easy for any of us and especially not me. I was also going through a terribly rough time because my endometriosis had kicked into high gear. Physically and emotionally I was spent.

I had a friend who encouraged me to get on Zoloft. I did heed her advice and that helped me. It didn’t help my child.

Finally, I convinced Terry and the Pediatrician that he needed to be assessed. I had been reading about bipolar and was certain that was our culprit. Through the same friend who suggested Zoloft for me, she also gave me a recommendation for a renowned child psychologist at Duke.

We got our appointment set. Beforehand, they asked me to write everything I could recall about the four years of his life including my pregnancy and his birth. By the time I was finished, it wrote like a novel. (Maybe I should have kept a copy)

Prior to seeing the doctor, I had picked up a book called Parenting with Love and Logic by Foster Cline, MD, and Jim Fay. Terry and I had already started implementing some of their ideas and they were working. It also was helping with the other three children as well.

After our four hours long appointment, the doctor concluded that Alex had high- level anxiety and slight ADD, which he said required no medication. He told us that consistent discipline would achieve the best results for him. (He had literally observed us with Alex for two hours before coming in to meet with us) I told him about the book. He said it was one that was on his recommendation list.

He surmised that the anxiety was an onset of my almost tragic birth of Amy because that’s when the noticeable change happened. Due to the fact, I almost lost my life, when Terry brought him to see me I was lying in a bed with a very swollen face from all of the fluids. Then when Amy and I came home, I couldn’t pick him up for three weeks. People were in and out helping me but the most I could do for him was allow him to crawl into my lap. He was only sixteen months old and could not verbalize so it came out as anger.

Once we began fully implementing the idea found in the book, our lives changed substantially. I learned patience in a way I never thought I would and there was a complete sense of freedom in teaching my children to make choices. The main premise of the book is to teach children in order for them to become independent. That is the ultimate goal.

Now, I wish I could tell you that I am always patient but that is not the case. I still ride that struggle bus. What I can tell you is that when I prayed for patience and God gave me Alex one of my life’s most precious gifts.

In Spite of Who I Am…..He Loves Me

Now that you’re aware of my rebellious nature. I want to share a little story with you. One I don’t think I’ve ever shared.

One day in the early part of my high school years, I came home one afternoon from school. Completely drained and out of focus to complete any homework assignment, I sat down on my piano bench and started to play.

The piano was my therapy.

I’m not sure why but no one was home this particular day. As I began to play and unwind, I noticed behind my book was a white sheet of paper with words written on it in Ned’s horrific handwriting. Curious, I began to read.

As I read tears welled up in my eyes, as the words spilled off the page and into my heart I began thinking, ”Wow! God loves me in spite of who I am or what I’ve done.” I would love to tell you that revelation changed my behavior, at that point in time, it didn’t. That would come years later. You see, I had a lot of head knowledge about God but I had built up far too many walls to allow him to penetrate my heart. It would take years to breakthrough.

However, as time marched on and my heart became more pliable and moldable and I let go of the things that were holding me in captivity, I’ve always remembered the words of this song and I remember that day so vividly. And you know what, He has never let go of my hand. Many times, I’ve let go of His but His love for me knows no bounds and I am so thankful.

Listen here I’ll never let go of your hand

Best $5.00 I’ve Spent

Two weeks ago was the Tryon Youth Theater’s, running of Matilda. A few weeks prior to the event I asked Terry if he would go with me. He first wanted to know if the place had air conditioning and then agreed to go. The only stipulation was, ”I’m not spending a perfectly good date night to go.” Leaving me with only Sunday matinee as an option.

The truth is, he’s not truly fond of musicals. He will grin and bear it but it’s not really his thing.

I hemmed and hawed and put off purchasing tickets until about a week before the show. By the time I got around to purchasing the tickets most of the Sunday was sold out and there were no two seats together.

Considering he really didn’t want to go anyway, I told him I would just go on Friday night by myself. I’m pretty sure he did a happy dance in his mind.

So, I bought myself a $5.00 ticket and took myself to see the show.

As I walked to the entrance of the Tryon Fine Arts Center, memories began flooding my mind. As I walked past the stairwell, pictured below, I remembered how often during rehearsals some of the cast would venture out to talk and hang out when we weren’t working our scenes. Sometimes idle chatter and other times trying to mend a broken heart.

As I neared the front of the building a wave of excitement rushed over me as I was back on familiar ground. I remembered that same feeling of sheer exuberance before the start of each night. I could hardly wait.

Also, I discovered I had a few friends with children who were participating in the show and was eager to see them. Not to mention, my favorite piano teacher was leading and directing the music.

I sat down, looked over the program reminiscing about days gone by. Remembering how much fun it was to be part of the summer plays. Not only did it give me something to occupy my time with, it also kept me from having to go on vacation with my parents and younger siblings. I would stay with my grandparents in Brevard and drive back and forth for play practice. It afforded me time with friends and also to make new friends. Truly a remarkable experience to be play a part.

Now, back to the show….

From start to finish the show was magical. The cast was so well picked, each actor fit their part perfectly. The energy and sense of togetherness were clearly on display from beginning to end. It was truly a delightful experience.

As the curtain drew on the final scene, a tear fell from my eye. I wasn’t sad it was over, I was happy I decided to go.

The Most Horrible News Ever….but Not Really

I sat in utter disbelief. I couldn’t believe my ears. ”We’ve decided that you, Kristi and David will no longer be attending school in Polk County. Beginning in the fall, you will be going to Tryon. We just feel like this is the right move for your education.”

As the words tumbled from their mouths, anger boiled inside. How could they do this to me?

I’m not sure when they made the decision but they decided to wait until we were on vacation to inform us. Talk about a vacation spoiler. Good thing they waited until near the week’s end to spill the beans. I knew better than to argue because their minds were clearly made up.

I fumed.

Finally, I got up and walked out. I walked toward the beach. Tears burned my face. I muttered every curse word in the book and then some. ”Didn’t they realize I already had my Freshman year of high school mapped out? I didn’t need or want a change.”

I found a payphone and called one of my friends. She, too, was unhappy about the decision my parents had made. I’m pretty sure during the course of my conversation with her I called my parents every horrible name my angry brain could muster. Talking to her did calm me down.

Now, here I sit thirty-six years later and I realize that my parents knew what they were doing. It was not a decision they made lightly but it was the best decision for us.

Winston Churchill says, ”There is nothing wrong with change if it is in the right direction.”

Change is hard. It often causes fear and anxiety because of the unknowns. It also pushes us out of our comfort zones into the world of the unfamiliar. It causes the direction to change

What I’ve learned over the years through this experience is that sometimes the direction of our lives must change because in order for us to learn and grow.

The Choice We Have When Life Happens

Last week proved to be full of unexpected and unplanned deaths. Beginning with my neighbor, who was only 64. She suffered from a massive stroke on July 5 and was unable to recover. The unexpected drowning of Molly Greene, a lady I do not know, personally, but mutually connected to. Finally the unexpected death of Geoffrey Tennan, a man I knew and loved. Not one of these deaths were expected or anticipated. Life is full of unexpected, isn’t it?

Things happen in life that take us by surprise, lead us into shock and devastation and will do one of two things, draw us closer to God or fall away. I’ve been in both places. I can assure you that the first is far greater than the latter but if I’m being honest, the latter is an easier route.

It’s much easier to become angry with God when things don’t go the way we planned and the reason I fairly simple. We didn’t get what we wanted. Things didn’t go as expected and as Lysa TerKeurst says in her book, It’s Not Suppose To Be This Way, ”Humans are very attached to outcomes. We say we trust God but behind the scenes, we work our fingers to the bone and our emotions into a tangled fray trying to control our outcomes.”

Y’all it’s so easy to trust in God and His goodness when things are plotting along well but when tragedy, an unexpected illness, job loss, financial crises, or betrayal weaves its way into our lives, praising God is generally the furthest thing from our thoughts and minds.

However, because I have been in both places and I know the power anger had over me for so many years. I paid a significant price for my anger and I still marvel that God sought me out and lifted my feet on very solid ground. Psalm 40:2. I have been determined not to allow it to take up residence again. Oh, it wants to and it’s sometimes a daily fight but my God is stronger and He will battle for me.

In any case, over the past eight years, if I listed all of the things that have happened, which were not part of the outcome I perceived, you would be amazed, like I am that, I am not a walking basket case. Albeit, at times I reckon I am and that I am just being completely held together by a God who loves to laugh and say, ”Yep, that one’s a little cray, cray but I love her anyway.”

Here’s what I know and have learned. You cannot trust someone you do not know. If you don’t spend time alone with God, you will never get to know Him. If you don’t pray and ask Him to reveal himself to you, you can’t possibly understand that ”All things (good and bad) work together for good to those who love him and are called according to his purpose ” Romans 8:28 For me personally, I have to drown out the noises and get alone and still and quiet. (Yes, I did say quiet which will come as a shock to those who really know me)

What I have learned by spending time in His presence is that I can praise Him in the hard times of life. I can trust His heart and know that He has my back. Not only that, but He knows what is best for me.

When Ned was diagnosed with cancer, it rocked our world. The diagnosis was bleak. I remember falling to my knees in prayer before the first visit with Dr. Anthony, his oncologist, and begging God, ”Please God don’t let me become angry. Please keep my heart at peace. Help me to see the good and keep my hope in you. I know you will do what’s best.”

Can I be frank and honest, I tried to muster anger at times. It would’ve been easier emotionally because it was downright hard to remain hopeful and at peace with where things were. But every time I felt anger start to boil, something would happen. A prayer would be answered. A precious memory made. A good report. Something. I could stand back and say, ”Wow, God, look at what you did!” The praise kept the anger at bay and filled my heart with gratitude which in turn changed my attitude.

And so it is with you, are you struggling for peace? Do you want to understand? Has your world.been turned on its end? Are you angry with God because you think He’s the cause of your pain and heartbreak? You will not find answers in any self-help book. You will not find answers by constantly talking to people or going to church or attending a Bible Study or even through a counselor. You must seek to know Him. You must learn to trust Him and you must get alone with Him because you can bare your soul to Him. He already knows and cares for you!

All Roads Lead Somewhere

About once a week, sometimes more, Mamaw and Popaw would make treks from Brevard, NC, to Columbus, NC. They couldn’t help themselves. They had to come and visit. Honestly, it was more Mamaws begging and pleading that brought them there.

Quite often, if we weren’t traipsing through the woods with Popaw or doing something outdoors with him. He would get tired of the women’s conversation and would ask me, ”Honey, do you want to go for a ride?”

I think he often sensed my longing to get out of the house as well.

I gladly jumped in the car with him and off we’d go. Popaw loved back roads and if you’ve never been to the Columbus/ Tryon area, they are plentiful.

Our adventures took us all over Polk County. Each time we ventured out on a different road. One time our adventure took us to Fox Mountain Road. A road very unfamiliar to me and of course to Popaw as well. We drove and drove, took twists and turns. I finally said to him, ”Popaw, do you know where you’re going?”

He said, ”No, but I know which way North is and I’ll get us back home. One thing you have to remember is that all roads lead somewhere. If you know which direction is North, you can find your way back.”

Popaw grew up hunting. He always had a keen sense of direction and his Dad would often ask him to guide them out of the woods when they were coon hunting.

You know, Popaw made a good point when he said that all roads lead somewhere. It’s true, they do.

It makes me think of this poem by Robert Frost

Popaw always took the roads less traveled but he always knew which direction he wanted and needed to go and it made all the difference in his life.

What a legacy he left behind for us to follow!