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.

Daddy, I Can’t Choose Just One…

Her plea began, ”But Daddy I need to take my family with me. I can’t choose just one.”

I’m fairly certain this was our annual Spring Break trip with the kids to the beach. Amy was probably five or six at the time. She proudly announced to all of us that she had her things packed and in the car the day before our scheduled departure.

I already had her necessities packed so I just assumed she was eager for our trip.

The next morning we gathered our things and began towing them outside. We had to haul most of out things in gigantic luggage bag on the top of our van. A must when you have limited space and a half dozen bodies in one vehicle.

Once the luggage bag was secure, Terry opened the trunk to fill it up. To his surprise the vans limited cargo space was already half full…….of Amy’s stuffed animals, at least twenty and probably more. They were piled and luckily there was a cargo net which hindered an avalanche of stuffed animals.

Terry called her over and told her that we couldn’t possibly take all of these animals. And that’s when she began her plea, ”But Daddy, I need to take my family with me. I can’t choose just one.”

That’s the first time she referred to her stuffed animals as her family. It was one of those moments you want to bottle up and keep forever.

Aren’t you glad that God didn’t tell Jesus that He could only choose ”just one”? His reason for subjecting himself to the brutality of the cross was for all of us. He chose to die in your place and my place. It is our choice to chose to believe in Him and the power of His resurrection.

Value Life and Be Thankful

February 12, 1998 is always a day of reflection for me. For whatever time I have left on this earth it always will be. If you haven’t been following along and need a refresher. Read here

For the past few days, I’ve truly been mulling over the fact that God in His great mercy saw fit to spare my life that day. Now, here I am twenty-one years later and I still am amazed by His great love for me. I am also grateful that He chose me to love and be a Mom to all four of my children, not that I did it right. It’s just the one thing in life that I always felt a strong calling to do.

I remember the first steps each of my children took because I was with them. I recall their first words. Only one out of the four said, ‘Momma” first, and I can promise you it wasn’t the Princess. I was there when they got hurt and needed stitches. When they broke arms, wrists, and legs. I was there when their little hearts were broken. I watched as they learned to ride bikes, hit golf balls, throw things, play tennis, catch a football, play basketball, play piano, violin, and drums.

Like I said before, I didn’t always get the parenting thing right. I messed up. I yelled when I should’ve spoken kindly. I threatened without following through. I complained about the messes they made. I was more concerned about how my house looked than I was about spending time with my children. I was more concerned with their behavior than I was about their hearts.

To be honest, by the time I realized how much I messed up, Ryan and Matthew were almost grownup and out of the house. Seriously. Fortunately, I had a little more time with Alex and Amy.

Here’s the point. God had a choice to take me or leave me. He left me here. He wasn’t finished with me and I am grateful.

Do you realize that as long as there is life in you, God can use you? Sometimes, I think we get so hyper-focused on life and all of life’s stuff, we forget that we have a greater purpose. A greater calling. Our purpose is, like Jesus displayed in his time on earth, to bring glory to the Father

When we choose to value life and be thankful for the breath in our lungs, we realize how blessed we are.

One of my current favorite songs speaks to this very thing.

Great Are You Lord

You give life, You are love
You bring light to the darkness
You give hope, You restore
Every heart that is broken
Great are You, Lord
It’s Your breath in our lungs
So we pour out our praise
We pour out our praise
It’s Your breath in our lungs
So we pour out our praise to You only……..

Listen Here

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.

Halloween Shenanigans

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

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

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

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

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

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

For years we’ve howled over that night.

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

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

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

Why I call him Ned

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Learning the value of communication…..our story continues

One very important decision Terry and I made upfront was that we would make time to continue dating. We knew that the success of our marriage would be determined by the way we communicated with each other. The only way to effectively communicate was to set aside time for just the two us.

We enlisted the help of Sarah Scoggins and on Sunday evenings after church, she would come keep the boys. We did this on a regular basis for about the first six months of our marriage, maybe more. Of course, my parents and grandparents were often willing to take the boys for an overnight visit, giving us time alone together.

However, we learned we couldn’t be selfish with just time for us. The boys needed to be a part as well. So we made time for them as well. The goal was not to make them front and center but to make our relationship the primary and theirs the secondary.

I wish I could say it was easy. It wasn’t. My boys were accustomed to being the focal point. Between me, my parents and grandparents, we did a bang up job of marking them front and center. Adjusting this attitude would be hard, not just for me, but Ryan and Matthew as well. Again, things that are necessary are often hard at first and they take patience and time.

The one thing I had learned from observing other couples and their marriages, especially the good solid marriages, the spousal relationship was always primary and the relationships with children secondary.

Another thing that happened during our first six months of marriage was “the big kids”. I’ll have to back track s little yo explain.

Before terry and I met, in addition to being a part of the singles ministry, I also helped with the youth, I was teaching a group of girls. In fact, I began with this group when they were in 10th grade. At the time when Terry and I married they were in 11th grade. At some point between our 4-5 month of marriage, Jim Pearce, our youth minister approached me with a proposition for Terry. A male teacher was needed for this group of seemingly rebel 11th grade boys. These boys apparently scared off their other teachers. I can recall how many they had gone through since 9th grade, at least 4, maybe more.

When I asked Terry if he would be willing to teach them. He said, “Only if we can combine the boys and girls and you teach.  I’ll help.”

I took the proposition back to Jim. He was willing to do anything to get these boys a teacher. He agreed to our terms. So, in July of 1995, we began teaching this group of amazing kids, commonly referred to in our house as “the brag kids”.

Once we began teaching them, our Sunday date nights turned into Sunday hangout night at Terry and Kelly’s. Ryan and Matthew always looked forward to seeing them.

Our once a week date night quickly became a thing of the past. However, we were still determined to date. It just looked different and happened less frequently.

We knew that God had given us this amazing task of leading and guiding these teenagers through their senior year of high school. I also knew from prior experience, youth need you to be involved with them on more than just Sunday. The only way to build trust and confidence is spending time with them. However, we had to exercise caution, even with them, and not allow them to intrude on our family and alone time. It’s a juggling act.

The juggling act was made more difficult because of my activity level at church. Y’all I was involved in everything. I sang in the choir, lead children’s choir, and worked with the youth on Wednesday nights, in addition to teaching them Sunday morning. I also worked a part-time job. In addition, I was consistently asked to take on more tasks at church. I loved the busyness. I was volunteer, extraordinaire. Terry didn’t approve. He didn’t mind telling me either.

He said, “Kelly, you have two boys to take care of and you’re constantly dragging them to church and leaving them for others to care for and you’re not being fair to them. They’re young and need you. If you can’t say no when you’re asked to do something , give me the phone and I’ll say ‘No’ for you. Besides, it’s taking time away from us too. I know what you’re doing is good but you can’t do everything.”

Talk about a wake up call! The church and activities had been my lifeline for the past 4 years. Again, he was right and I knew it. He wasn’t telling me not to do anything and drop everything, he was just telling me to get my priorities in the proper order.

If we hadn’t taken time for each other and had not learned to communicate, this whole conversation may have resulted in a far different outcome. However, I knew that he truly wanted the best for me and for the boys, He wanted me to value my time with them and not put my church activities ahead of them.

Sometimes life can be that way, we allow good things to take precedence over the greater things. The older I get the more I realize that time invested in people has more subtantial rewards and yields a much greater return on investment than being busy all the time.

Just as it should be…

It’s hard to believe that just nine years ago we were a family of six. Amy and I were totally outnumbered, just a whole bunch of boys.

In August of 2008, we loaded up two SUV’s and headed off to USC (South Carolina) to drop Ryan off for his first year of college. So much excitement but so much sadness. My firstborn. The one I had spent countless hours taking to while in the womb. The one I walked through the house pointing out anything and everything I could to him. The one I read to over and over and over again, until he turned three and discovered TV. The one whose blue eyes melted my heart every time I looked at them. The one God used to get me over myself. He was leaving. My heart knew it was time but the Momma in me wanted to keep him a little longer.

We adjusted. The dynamics changed for sure. Then we were five.

After Ryan’s freshman year, he decided not to go back. College was not for him. Once again, we were back to six.

Then it happened. June of 2010. We dropped Matthew off at the Navy Recruiting center in Asheville. Said our goodbyes and a few days later received his box of civilian clothes, including his cell phone. No cellphones allowed.  That was the hardest part.  Getting his belongings and not knowing how long it would be until I heard from him.

Now we’re back to five but that too was short lived. The week after Matthew’s graduation from Basic, we would be dropping Ryan off for Basic training.

Just like that our family of six quickly became a family of four. Talk about change in dynamics and a challenge. It was hard. Those boys had been with me longer than Terry had. They were my life before Terry and I really hadn’t prepared for how it would feel to be without them. I didn’t know how to cook for four people. I didn’t even know how to do laundry for four. Everything changed.

Unlike with dropping your child off at college. You don’t know when you’ll hear from them. During Basic they only get to call a couple of times. Mostly they write letter. If time permits.

We made it through. Got accustomed to the new norm. Life kept moving.

Then last year we took our youngest to college. The only girl. To say it was hard for me is an understatement. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. It wasn’t because we were each other’s best friends. We’re not. I’m the Queen.  She’s the Princess. She just kept me constantly on the go. There was always something going on with her. Not to mention, she’s the only girl and she’s my baby. It was a harsh awakening to realize that eighteen years had flown by so quickly.

Then we became a family of three only because Alex’s choice to remain home work and attend Blue Ridge Community College.

Now, here we are. One week away from our fourth child flying the coup. Leaving the nest. Sprouting his own wings to fly.

How do I feel? Excited. Elated. Proud. Oh, without a doubt I will miss him. He has been a delight and joy. I have watched him grow into a strong and very mature young adult. I have seen his strength and faith exemplified through the untimely death of his friend Derrick. I have seen him balance work and school and finish on the Dean’s List. In his eyes, I see the excitement and anticipation of this next chapter of life, and I hear it in his voice.

I refuse to pretend that I won’t shed a tear or fifty but he is so ready and I am so ready for him to fly.

Soon and very soon, a week to be exact. Our family of three will become a family of two. Just as is should be.