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.