Special times with Popaw

By now you know that not only was Popaw one of my favorite people, he was also my hero.

Over the next few.weeks, I have plenty of stories to share. This particular story happened within the last three years.

Before Ned’s diagnosis with cancer, Mom.had predominantly been responsible for Popaw’s health care.

Prior to moving him to the assisted living facility, Mom would. commonly meet him at his appointments. However, when he no longer had use of the car, Mom had to take him.

With Ned’s.illness and all.of.his appointments, it became increasingly harder for Mom.to.keep.up.

One day. I announced to.her that I would start.managing his healthcare. It was the one thing I could completely take off her shoulders to allow her focus to be more on Ned. Besides, I reasoned, if something happened to her, I would be the one responsible for him. It just made.sense.

I viewed it as an opportunity to help her and spend some. extra time.with Popaw. I enjoyed his company and he enjoyed mine.

Our first trip to the doctor without Mom would be unique and different for him. He was so accustomed to her taking him, I knew it would be slightly awkward. I decided, on my way to pick him up, to pop in my Selah cd because he would recognize all the Hymns.

In classic Popaw style, he got in my car and immediately began to thank me. ”Honey, I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve such good treatment but I sure appreciate you taking care of me.”

After a few minutes of small talk, the car grew silent except for the cd playing. The silence was soon interrupted by a sound I now wish I had recorded. The raspy bass voice of my Popaw singing, ”I sing because I am happy. I sing because I am free. His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me. His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me.”

At that moment, any twinge of nervousness he had about me taking over his care, or any fear I had that I wouldn’t do it the right way was completely absorbed by the fact that we both knew and understood a valuable truth at that moment. God was taking care of both of us.

Can I be really blunt here?

To say I miss this treasure of a human being is an understatement. There will never be another like him. I am thankful I didn’t waste the time of frivolity and that my earlier choices had dictated time I would get to spend with Popaw.

Listen here

Are you in a season of waiting?

“Waiting is a common instrument of providential discipline for those whom exceptional work has been appointed” James Stalker

Does God have you in a season of waiting? Have you been there for some time? Are you weary and worn out? Do you ever get the feeling that everyone around you is getting what they want or their lives are flourishing and you’re caught in the wait?

It’s a hard place to be. It’s a humbling place to be. I know. I’ve been there a time or two myself. I haven’t always been patient in the wait. I’ve often run ahead of God’s timing and learned it’s a huge mistake. Pleas understand, I am not saying that God can’t redeem my choice to move ahead of his timing. What I am saying is that in the process of moving ahead of God, I’ve caused grief and pain for myself and others.

Why is waiting so hard?

It goes against every grain of our human nature. However, we must remember Rome wasn’t built in a day. The process of time makes everything better. It allows time for growth and maturity.

Take for example, a woman who finds out she’s pregnant, she knows from the onset she must wait for nine months before her baby is born. If the babe happens to come earlier than the expected time, complications and even death can occur. The baby has not fully developed. As a mom of four, I can attest the waiting is hard, particularly near the end of pregnancy and you’re miserable. There’s no comfort, no sleep, constantly running to the bathroom. It’s daunting and tantalizing. Playing on every corner of your emotions. It’s not fun. It’s frustrating! Maddening. Exhausting!

So what do we do when God asks us to wait?

We sit around and expect to God to just show up and say, “Ok. I’ve ironed out all the details. Your wait is over!”

Sorry folks, it doesn’t work like that. We keep our focus on him and we continue to do whatever He has called us to do. We keep on. Sometimes, even in the wait, he opens doors for us to walk through. He expects us to do our part during the wait. He expects us to trust and believe He knows and has our best interest at heart. While we wait, we pray. We pray and we pray! We believe. We believe and believe. We trust. We trust and trust. We obey. We obey and obey.

And when our wait is over, we rejoice and rejoice and rejoice because of His goodness and grace to us!

Last week, at Newspring, Meredith Knox delivered a powerful message on the idea of waiting. You can listen to it Here.

Let me encourage you, no matter where you are in your season of waiting, God has uniquely designed this time for you.

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.

Don’t Blink

Who doesn't love the sight of an almost 4-year-old and his Popaw (great-grandfather) sitting at the table working a puzzle together? Classic  Timeless. A bridge between generations.

When Ryan was about a year old, he was completely mesmerized by puzzles.  The wooden puzzles with frames and giant size pieces.  You know the ones,  4-8 pieces, pegs at the top  It was easy to teach him how to manipulate the pieces to fit in their appropriate shape. Before long he graduated to the more advanced puzzles.  The ones with 10-15 pieces that you actually had to figure out by color and fit together inside the frame. Ryan got bored with those rather quickly.   So, he graduated to the 25 piece puzzles with no frame.  We taught him the easiest way to do the puzzle without a frame was to find the end pieces and work them first and then put tighter the inside. It worked.  He could put those puzzles together in a jiffy.  Again,  he got bored quickly and he graduated up to the 100 piece puzzles, when he was about 3 1/2.   By the time he was four, putting together 200 piece puzzles became his challenge. He was diligent about picking out the end pieces and working the outside until he discovered the picture on the box. The picture on the box opened a whole new world for  him see colors and patterns and how they would fit together. While he would still separate out the end pieces, he could work both inside and outside at the same time.

More than the fact that Ryan was a puzzle whiz, is the time that others, especially Popaw would take to sit with him and work puzzles.

Popaw always understood that his time would make a difference. He never got too busy to spend time with those he loved.  Ask anyone of my children, my sister, my brother, or their children.  He's always placed far more value in people than things.

Time is the most valuable gift we can give others and it's often the thing we fail to give.  We find distractions or busyness to consume our time. We're always moving to the next item on our agenda. These are the things that often rob us of time we need to be investing in others.

Jesus was always investing his time with people too.  There are countless stories in the Bible where we are told that Jesus lingered.  He stayed longer than planned.  Why?  He knew that by investing his time in people, He could win them over.  He could gain their trust.  He also knew at the core root of people is an insatiable need to be loved and made to feel important.  Do you realize when you give up your agenda and just spend time with someone, you're saying, "You're more important.  The agenda can wait."? People can't.

So often when my children were young, I was eager to move onto the next thing on my agenda.  Most things were "good things" but those things took time away from them.  Time I could've invested in reading a book, playing a game, working a puzzle, etc.  My children, without a doubt, know they are loved and adored; but I could've made them feel so much more important if I had been willing to, like Popaw, set aside my agenda and give them my full attention.  I went to sleep and now they're 27, 25, 21, and 19.  Don't  blink.