Monday, December 19, 2011

Waiting on the Lord...

This past week, our pastor taught from Luke 2:25-35, the story of Simeon.  This man waited his entire life for the arrival of the baby, Jesus.  God had promised Simeon that he would live to see the newborn King.  Faithfully, this man went to the temple everyday, trusting that he would live to see the Savior of the world.  And, he did!  God was faithful to Simeon and upheld His promise.  In only 10 short verses, the Bible packs a lifelong sermon.  What are you waiting on?

I have dear friends who waited on the Lord for years to bless them with children.  Now, both of those sweet friends are expecting their first babies.  They waited on the Lord.  They sought after Him in prayer, they were active in learning about the different options to help make this come to pass, and they trusted that He would provide.  And, He did!  I cannot wait to meet these precious miracles and products of waiting on the Lord!

Now, I am in a waiting pattern.  I am continually working on my education, in hopes that one day, God will use the degrees I earn for His glory.  I don't know what the future holds for me.  Will I continue to homeschool?  Will I find work in a school?  Will I be given the opportunity to work with children who need extra attention?  What does God want to do with me?  I'm waiting on His direction.  I have a year until I have my Master's degree.  I am actively pursuing my education, and I am trusting in Him to guide me with what to do with it.

We recently joined a wonderful church.  There are ministries aplenty where I could use my talents and gifts for God.  In the next month, the church will be starting services on another campus that needs volunteers.  I am waiting for the Lord to show me where He wants me and my family to serve.  I am waiting on Him to show me how I can bring others to His kingdom.  I am waiting on the Lord to see if we should stay where we are, or if we need to relocate.  I know He has a plan for me, and I waiting on a word from Him that will guide me to where I can best serve Him.

I am waiting on the Lord for reconciliation.  There are relationships in my life that have crumbled.  There are those that needed to change.  There are those that needed to cease.  But, there is one that is such a burden on my heart.  I have prayed continuously over this relationship, but there has been no burning bush, so to speak.  I have used all of my efforts to restore this broken road.  I am waiting on the Lord to show me what to do next.  This relationship is one I value and treasure...giving up is not an option.  I am waiting for the Lord to reveal to me what else I can do...do I pack up my car and confront this person head-on?  Do I sit back and wait for this person to get back in contact with me?  The issue of reconciliation has been the hardest for me.  Yet, I am encouraged by Simeon...waiting to see the birth of Jesus!  What a testimony!  What an encouragement!

            Waiting on the Lord to complete this picture...

Monday, November 7, 2011

Juggling and My Mama

Sometimes, I feel more like a semi-professional juggler than anything else in life.  I am pretty sure that every person in life feels like that sometime or another.  Currently, I am juggling being a wife, mom, daughter, sister, friend, student, teacher, volunteer, cook, maid, dog walker, personal assistant, etc.  I know everyone of you reading this has felt stretched in a million ways.  We all get that feeling that there are not enough hourse in a day to complete all of the tasks required of us.  We all worry that we might not be doing the right thing, that we don't have what we need, we are concerned about family members, we worry about our children...our minds are going a gazillion miles an hour.

Today, I had the blessing of having some of my stresses lessened.  My Mama came up from SC today.  She took the kiddos to the library for story time, to Chick-Fil-A for lunch, then brought them back home and did their home school work with them.  The kids had such a good day.  I was able to get the house cleaned, laundry done, gave the dog a bath and long walk, changed the sheets on all the beds, finished homework, and so much more.  I am grateful to have a Mama who was willing to step in and help me out today.  Thanks, Mama!

I hope that I can be a person who pays attention to what is going on in the lives of other people.  I hope I can be a person who reaches out to help out when someone needs a burden lifted.  I hope that we can ALL learn to pay attention to the needs of those around us.  The smallest gesture can take a load of stress off of someone who needs a break.  I challenge you to be like my Mama...take a look around at the people around you, and help them out!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Operation Christmas Child

One of my favorite ministries of all time is Operation Christmas Child organized by Samaritan's Purse.  For many, many years, Mark and I have stuffed shoe boxes full of toiletries, toys, art supplies, and candy.  We loved assembling these gifts, turning them in, and knowing that they were going to reach children all over the world. 

Cecely and Titus earn money each week for doing chores around the house.  They earn bonus money for things they do without being asked or for jobs that are out-of-the-ordinary.  The two of them saved money for over a year for spending money for our trip to Disney World in September.  With that money, the children were very careful what they spent there money on.  Since we've been back from Disney, they have been saving their earned money in jars in their rooms.

We've been talking about Operation Christmas Child for a couple of weeks. The kids decided to use the money they had been saving to buy things to fill their own shoe boxes.  I was so proud of them!  We went to Target and Walmart today after church.  Cecely and Titus went down every aisle.  They didn't want to buy junk.  They wanted to spend their money on gifts that they would want if they were receiving the boxes.  They kept up with how much money they had spent and almost spent to their last dollar for other children.

I think it is so important to teach children to care for others.  Operation Christmas Child gives our family the opportunity to help people that we will never meet this side of heaven.  But, when we do get to heaven, I cannot wait to meet the children that received the boxes we have filled through the years!  Cecely and Titus are both compassionate and giving children.  I am so proud of them.  They know they won't have spending money for awhile, but they were more than willing to spend their hard earned money on strangers.  I pray that they will continue to develop their ministerial hearts!




Friday, November 4, 2011

Fall, Autumn, Harvest

Fall, autumn, harvest...whatever you call it, it is beautiful.  This time of year is my favorite.  Watching the leaves change from green to shades of red, pink, orange, yellow, purple, and brown is fascinating. The kids and I had full doing a unit study by Amanda Bennett called "Autumn Treasures".  During the study, we went on leaf hunts and nature walks.  We collected leaf samples, made leaf rubbings, and wrote about the leaves we found.  My family and I are blessed to live in an area of the country that comes alive with color in the fall.  We have been on several adventures around Western NC to see fall at it's best.  We have explored Chimney Rock Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway, and other places close by.  We have been able to behold God's beauty, splendor, and majesty!
                                         
                                          Cecely and Titus on the Blue Ridge Parkway
                                          Me and the kids on a nature walk at the Carl Sandburg home.
                                          Titus and Cecely at the Lazy 5 Ranch in Mooresville

Fall is an inspiring time of year for me.  It is a reminder of the Scriptures that speak of "a time for every season...a time to be born, a time to die...", and "the old has gone and the new has come".  Seeing the trees lose their leaves and prepare for winter reminds me of the frailty of life, but also I reminded the hope of new things come with the spring.  This is an opportunity for me to reconnect with my Savior, to die to myself, and to renew my relationship with Him.  The promise of the spring is around the corner!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Growing Up...

This year, I turned 30, and what an experience that has been.  I have found that hitting this milestone has brought changes in me.  For starters, I have never been a person who is quick to forgive.  Even when I do forgive, I have a hard time letting go of the other emotions that surround forgiveness.  But, as I've grown up, I have had an easier time forgiving, and am learning to harness the other feelings.  I have always tried to be a peacemaker or peacekeeper, and that has often led to me ending up in precarious situations.  Since I have hit 30, I have felt more empowered to stand up for myself and to do what I have to for my children.  I have never been one to think I'm above others...usually, I am one of the first to speak up about things I have done wrong.  It rattles me that some people just want to dwell on the past or bring up past issues that have already been resolved.  What does that accomplish?  I have always tried to be transparent, but that often is accompanied by judgement.  But, you know what, let people judge me all they want...I don't answer to them.  

Everyone changes as they grow up.  Unfortunately, this sometimes makes relationships difficult.  While everyone is changing and growing, they are not necessarily changing and growing together in the same ways.  There are relationships that existed years ago, in a different stage of life, that worked.  But, as everyone becomes more self-aware and more developed, some relationships can't survive the change.  And, that's ok.  The good thing is that there are great memories of the past, which should be cherished.  There's no rule that everyone has to remain friends with everyone else as their lives change.  I believe this is why God brings us different people for the different seasons of our lives.  My hope is to hold on to good memories, but to invest in friendships of people who want a relationship with me and my family.

I am hopeful that others can see from that perspective of growing up.  We all need to be aware of how each of us has changed individually, and how are priorities in life have changed.  Instead of being upset by the differences, we should all focus on the wonderful possibilities that face us with the new relationships that come our way in the forever changing seasons of life.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Out of the Mouths of Babes...

It is amazing the things children say.  What I love about my Cecely is that she is completely honest.  she is the type of kid who tells on herself.  When she and Titus get into a scuffle, I always ask Cecely what happened, to which she will tell me the play by play.  She'll say, "I pushed Titus because he wouldn't get out of my way."  To which I usually say, "Was that a good choice?"  And she says, "Nope."  And, I'll say, "So what happens next?" And she'll reply "I am going to be in trouble."  Enter the waterworks...the thing is, she tells the truth, knowing that there will be consequences.  She doesn't lie.  I love that about her.

There are other who have no problem telling a lie.  Titus likes to tell half of the truth.  I will say to him "What happened" and the response is usually that he has forgotten, he doesn't know, or he doesn't want to get in trouble.  He thinks not answering me will save him from punishment.  I'm trying to teach him that just makes things worse.

Still, there are others who just flat-out lie and try to get others in trouble.  I am thankful that Cecely has a compassionate heart and usually tries to keep others from getting in trouble.  I am grateful that she knows the importance of honesty.  I am also thankful that Titus is young enough to learn that consequences are a natural part of telling a lie, or half truth.

I wish that adults would realize these simple lessons from their children.  I wish that they would see that their children, the words they say, the character they have are a direct reflection of the kind of parents they are.  Kids tell it like it is...the thing is, they are going to tell what they have been listening to at home!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Unanswerable Questions...

I think we all struggle with times when we want answers to questions that we are not going to get on this side of heaven.  Every time I hear or read about a child being hurt, taken advantage of, or worse, I ask how could God let this happen?  When a dear life is lost I fight to see the reason behind it.  When I know people are hurting in ways that could be relieved if they could just obtain that piece they are missing, I wonder why God keeps that piece away?  When I know there are people who continually take advantage of others and intentionally cause pain in the lives of other, I wonder why they "seem" to get everything they want. 

In reality, I know these are not questions that I can answer, or that anyone here on Earth can answer for me.  I know that it really isn't mine to question these things.  But, often, my humanity overrules my spirituality, and I really battle with these kinds of questions...I feel that most people do. 

I am well-versed in the Scriptures, and believe God's Word to be true.  I know that He loves me and everyone else, and that He has a plan that I cannot even begin to conceive.  He is God, I am not.  He is sovereign, I am very ignorant.  He is loving, I am inconsistent.  In all my heart knowledge of who God is, my head knowledge still searches for answers, or at least peace.

I continue to be heartbroken over those who are hurting.  I try to think of things I can do to ease their pain...but I know my help is temporary.  I still struggle with anger over the seeming injustice of those who live life all about self.  What a sad existence. 

My hope is that I can rise above the humanness of me, remember that I am a screwed-up mess of a person, and be thankful that God is in control and I am not.  Grace has always been my creed, but currently, I am wanting to be selective about who I extend grace to...that is not at all God's plan for me.  I have a gift of grace and encouragement, and I am going to pour those gifts into the ones I love.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Living in the Past

I find that when I am sad or lonely, I find it easy to slip into the past.  Sometimes, when I see a beautiful garden, I think of my GrandBonnie, and my memories take me back to days sitting on her back porch, drinking tea, listening to neighborhood sounds, and asking her questions about plants.  Often, I can focus on only remembering the good memories.  And, I am so thankful for an abundance of wonderful memories with my GrandBonnie.  I truly miss her.  I want her to see the flowers I have planted, the garden I am trying to cultivate, and taste her roast recipe that I'm trying to perfect.

Other times, I look into the past to remember the relationship I used to have with my brothers and sister.  We used to spend so much time together.  When we were little, we would play games for hours.  When we were older, we would go to the movies, downtown, or just hang out with one another.  We always had our differences, but we were able to get along and have a good time.  Now, I hardly hear from either of my brothers.  I know they have their own lives, and I am doing my best to stay out of their way, as they are adults now.  My sister and I still have a great relationship, but we are able to see each other only once or twice a year.  My heart aches for the times we used to have.


I have two wonderful friends, Mandy and Daphne, who I am able to spend time with several times a month.  Funnily enough, these girls are a part of my past that has become a major part of my present.  Mandy and I have known each other since Girl Scouts and Sunday School in elementary school years.  Daphne and I have been friends since we were in the youth group and chorus together.  I am so happy to have these links to my past...girls who have known me for years, who have seen how I've changed, and who still want to be my friends...what a blessing!

I think of my wonderful friend, Kelley, who lives far away.  We used to spend every day together when we lived in Georgia.  She was my work-out friend, my accountability partner, and my confidant.  Thankfully, although we are separated by miles, we are as close as ever.  We have a relationship that can pick up from where we left off, no matter how long it's been since we've spoken. 

Other times, I remember friends I used to have.  I think of all the things we have been through, all the struggles we have faced, and how close we once were.  Then, I realize that taking on the adult world has caused us to fall apart.  And, I'm learning that that's ok.  Because we were friends during our younger years, we might not be suited to be friends as adults.  That's alright.  I have fantastic memories to treasure.

Knowing that I am close to having my degree, I think of what my life would have been if I hadn't dropped out of college when I was 19.  I had a job already lined up after graduation.  I would have been working in a counseling service for low-income families.  But, I wouldn't have 2 amazing children if I had taken that route.

I am very guilty, especially since I've turned 30, of spending time asking a lot of "what ifs".  I know that is not a healthy way to live.  As I've grown older, I have started to analyze some of my past decisions.  I have so many regrets.  I have let people out of my life who could have had a positive impact on me.  I have lived in my own world and have, at times, isolated myself from people who cared about me.  I am sorry for losing some of the relationships I have lost.  I realize that some relationships are not going to be able to grow with me or to be suitable for my life now.  I still am saddened by the loss though.

I know it's dangerous to live in the past and to constantly ask "what if".  Sometimes I feel that my thoughts wondering that way are completely out of my control.  Other times, I know I'm looking for answers in my past about my life now.  While my memories frequent my mind, I am very much alive and well in my present.  Cecely and Titus keep me grounded.  I love spending each day with them.  I am grateful for their unconditional love.  I love seeing little glimpses of me in their quirky personalities.

I am trying not to live in the past, only visit it from time to time.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Eternal Perspective...

I love that term, eternal perspective.  I heard Ken Ham use it at a conference I was at not too long ago.  He was speaking to parents and said, "You're children will live forever.  But, where will they be living?"  I love that.  It really placed a new perspective in my heart and mind.

Once I listened to a sermon on heaven.  It was so encouraging.  The pastor talked about there is no hope with any other religion.  There's no encouragement for what is to come.  Christians can put their hope in Christ, and have faith that He will carry us through this existence on Earth to our eternal home in Heaven.  I love that!

This world is so corrupt with evil and selfishness.  And there isn't a rating system for the evil.  Sin is sin, whether it be murder, adultery, wicked thoughts, lying, gossip, whatever.  And, we are all guilty of sin.  Thankfully, God sent His Son to wipe away that sin.  We can all be redeemed.

I am an actions, not words kind of person.  God not only told the world he loved us all, He showed us with the ultimate gift of the birth of Jesus, and the ultimate sacrifice with the death of Jesus.  In my life, I want people to know I'm changed, saved, and redeemed because of my actions, not just my words.  I think it is important to show people God's love by acting as much like Christ as possible.  I know I am not capable to being Christ-like.  I know that I sin and fall short of His standards everyday.  But, I do know that He has blessed me with gifts that help me share His love.

On Earth, there are going to be people in life who refuse to see God's work in you.  There are people who dwell on the negative, who are self-centered, who say one thing, but show another.  God loves them.  And, I can love them, but I can also choose to remove myself from them, in order to strengthen my walk with Christ and not let the toxic people bring me down or cause me to become angry.


The promise of Heaven, using that eternal perspective, is what helps me not to dwell on the insignificance here.  Knowing that when I die, or when Jesus comes back for me, that I will be in a place where I will be able to sing and rejoice to no end is overwhelmingly encouraging.  Knowing that I will see those who have gone on before me...my Daddy, my Grandmama, 2 babies, countless other friends and family.  Knowing I will have the chance to hear the stories of the Old Testament from the people who lived them...what a concept!  Knowing that I will every day for eternity be in the presence of the One who saved me from my sin and from my self...it's impossible to comprehend.

So, I am going to try to live each day with an eternal perspective.  I'm going to focus on  my children.  I am going to continue to invest in the lives of others who are investing in my family and my life.  I am going to let the little things go.  I'm going to stop worrying about whether everyone likes me.  I am going to remove myself from relationships that are not healthy, and focus on the ones that are.  I am going to live my life showing others the love of God.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Countdown

I started college right out of high school.  I attended Mars Hill College and did 2 years worth of classes in 3 semesters.  I loved school...the learning part, I did not like living at college, and I never really fit in to the college scene.  When Mark joined the Navy, I dropped out of college and married him.  We moved around for several years, and I never had enough time in one spot to enroll again (this was pre-online classes).  Then, I had Cecely and Titus.  Once Titus became a little more independent, I started online classes, with great skepticism.  Thankfully, I was wrong.  I have really learned so much in the classes I have participated in.

Now, in 6 weeks, my college quest will finally be over.  I hope to one day get my Master's, but that is not financially possible right now...  I spend so much time righting papers, reading text books, and doing homework.  I cannot imagine what it will feel like to have time in the evenings to read a book for leisure or to play with the kids, and not have a research paper in the back of my mind.  I absolutely, positively cannot believe how close I am.

I know I wouldn't be reaching this milestone without some wonderful support.  My parents have helped out with the kids when I have had daunting papers to write.  My friends have helped me develop research ideas and have given me plenty of discussion and feedback.  I am so grateful for the support of those people!

6 weeks...WOOO HOOOOO!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Grace, Love, and Other Stuff...

I am a big believer in grace.  I realize how much grace has been shown to me in my life...from God, from my Mama, from my siblings, from my kids, and from my friends.  I think grace is the most amazing, incomprehensible concept.  Grace is giving forgiveness over and over, and showing love to those who don't really deserve it.  My problem is that I see a glimmer of hope when I extend grace to people who are constantly hurting me.  I show forgiveness time and time again.  I try to commit acts of kindness, knowing they are not going to be returned.  I try to be as selfless as I know how.

I cannot stand having those in my life who do not like me.  These people say they "love" me, but I just don't believe it.  I often wonder if people really know what love is?  I think it is a term that is thrown around loosely.  That is why I reserve saying "I love you" to everyone everyday.

Most of these people in my life who hurt me over and over again are the first to say "I love you".  Really?  You love me, but you're still all about self?  You love me, but you talk trash about me?  You love me, but you go out of your way to ignore me?  Really, do you know what love is?

I know I don't do it all right.  I know I screw up on a daily basis.  But, when I am aware of my mistakes, I am the first person to admit it, ask forgiveness, and try to fix whatever I've broken.  I always share my struggles with others in order for them to realize that I know I'm messed up.   It is my goal to be sincere and transparent in all I do.  It is my greater goal to live a life that encourages others and does not bring them down.

However, there are those in my life who I try to protect myself from.  They have hurt me in the past or are still hurting me.  They have never confessed to me what they've done wrong, although I've owned up to what I've done wrong.  Yet, no matter how much they hurt me, I can't help but being sucked back in.  I see a tiny sparkle of hope, of acceptance, and I jump right back in with both feet.

What I have been learning, and what I am striving to accomplish, is to invest my life into the lives of those who care about me and my family.  Not just those who throw empty words around, but those who actually put as much time into knowing what's going on with me as I do in staying in touch with them.  As I've said before, words without actions mean nothing.  I've got to try to remember to show grace and love to everyone, even those who abuse my relationship with them...but, I have to remember to show that grace and love within boundaries that keep me from being a doormat.

While there are those who are constantly trying to bring me down by whatever tactic they choose, I am extremely blessed to have sweet friends who are constant.  They love me no matter what.  They are honest.  They care about my children.  They care about the state of my marriage.  They care about my health.  They offer to help when I am overwhelmed.  They ALWAYS love me, in spite of my screw ups.  They forgive me when I ask, and when I don't.  I have learned that I don't need everyone who I come in contact with to accept me.  I have WONDERFUL people who encourage me daily, who laugh with me, who cry with me, and who know the meaning of true love.  Thank you, my AMAZING friends...you know who you are!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Fantastical Reality

Is there anyway to have a combination of fantasy with reality? 

When it comes to my children, I really want to instill in them a childhood full of wonderful memories.  I want them to look back when they are older and remember the experiences.  In essence, I want them to have a lot of fantasy in their upbringing.  All of the things I do and plan for Cecely and Titus is for them to remember having an eventful and happy childhood. 

When I work with other children, I want to give them that same sense of wonder and fantasy.  That's why I love children's books.  I love to read stories that I can share that give children the hope that anything is possible, that anything is possible.  Whatever story I read, I try to follow up with an art activity or something that will let the kids use their imagination.  I want my children, and the other ones I get to work with, to be able to incorporate fantasy into their real life.  That's why we have imaginations!

This is also probably why I am obsessed with children's books and all things Disney.  I love that innocence, imagination, and happiness reign supreme in these things.  I love getting lost in stories that weave together real life and the fantastic.  As far as Disney, as soon as I see the sign of the Disney property, I tear up...which is funny, given there is little I cry over.  There is something about being in a "World" that encourages the child in everyone to come out and have fun.  My rule for Disney, no grown up junk...it's all about having fun and remembering when life was simpler.

As an adult, I know that real life is dominate.  I am very much a realist and a cynic.  Maybe that's why I like Disney...it's an escape from the monotony of adulthood.  While I understand how important it is to be an adult, behave like an adult, and handle things in an adult fashion, I wish there was a way to combine a little of the fantasy into day to day life.

Why can't grown ups let go, be honest, and be happy?  Why do we get so weighed down with the rituals of life?  Why do we forget to take time and find the simple happiness around us?  Why do we stop showing the ones that we love that we care about them?  Why do we stop sharing little signs and tokens of love and appreciation?  Life is so difficult, but we choose to make it more so by completely forgetting the fantasy and imagination that children still encompass.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Romantic Comedies are the Demise of our Culture

I know that's a lengthy title, but it's just something that I have been thinking about.  I am an avid movie watcher.  I love the movies.  I love going to a theater, sitting in a comfy seat, and becoming immersed in the story of someone else.  I do the same thing with books...I lose focus on reality and submit to the life and times of another person.  It's an escape for me...one that I used to think was pretty safe.

When I watch movies, I tend to stay involved in the Science-Fiction, Historical, Action, Comedy and Documentary genres.  I try to avoid Romantic Comedies, unless they are really funny.  However, recently, I have become sucked into a whirlpool of mushy, sentimental, nauseating crud.  For some reason, these movies make big bucks.  But what are the positive repercussions of this genre? 

For starters, guys in real life are absolutely never like the guys in the movies.  The guys in the movies aren't even like the guys in the movies.  They are reciting the lines they have memorized from a writer, who was probably a woman.  Do guys ever say, "You are stunning", "You are so beautiful, I have to whisk you away right now", or "I am lucky to have you in my life"...  The problem is, we watch these movies, are emotions get manipulated, and we become upset because real life is not like a movie.

I am guilty of wishing that men did say these things.  I wish that they would stand up for the women they love.  I wish they would do those little things that make a woman feel like a million dollars.

All I can do, in reality, is try to be a lady worthy of having...I am not going to have the knock-out gorgeous looks of an actress, but I can encourage, cook, clean, rear children, and try to be romantic.  Oh, but I will have to stay away from the lovey-dovey, ooey-gooey, mushy-gushy movies that paint such an unrealistic portrait of married life. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

What goes around...

Today was another beautiful, sunny day here in the mountains.  The kids and I went outside to enjoy the warmth.  I was working on laying out the garden we are hoping to plant soon.  While I was shoveling away, I heard the sweetest sound.  Cecely and Titus were laughing uncontrollably.  I stopped working to watch them.  Cecely was pushing and Titus was pulling their wagon up the hill in our front yard.  They loaded up, Titus in the front and Cecely in the back.  Titus was holding the handle and Cecely put her hands on the ground and shoved off.  The kids in their green wagon zoomed down the hill.  It was so funny to watch, and they were having a great time.

When I was younger, my siblings and I used to do the same thing.  GrandBonnie lived across the road from us.  She had a steep hill that led from her house to the land she owned below.  I distinctly remember the 4 of us making that ride in our red wagon.  Usually Tyler and I would load up, then Andrea and Timothy.  GrandBonnie had cushions from an old couch, and we would lay them down on the ground and literally crash into them.  I remember it being the scariest, most thrilling, and probably the dumbest thing we did.  But, we had a blast, and it definitely left an impression on my mind.

I look at Cecely and Titus and wander what other crazy things they will do that my brothers and sister and I did.  We used to play for hours outside.  We would use wooden pallets that our Daddy had saved for some reason.  We would "build" with them and pretend we were everyone from the Boxcar Children living in a train to the Vanderbilts living in the Biltmore House.  We would ride bikes all over our yard and up and down the road.  We would play kickball and softball in the front yard.  Oh, and we would run and swing like crazy on the "Rodo-rider" which was this INSANE contraption a man from our church helped our Daddy build.  This think was basically metal pipes with 4 tire swings hanging from it...kind of like a propeller, but concreted into the ground.  We would take turns and 2 of us would run, while the other 2 swung around.  Again, crazy but so much fun!

I hope that Cecely and Titus are able to stand the test of time.  My siblings and I grew up spending so much time playing together.  Even as we were older, we would go to movies together, play board games for hours, and just have fun being together.  Of course, time has changed our lives.  The 4 of us are spread all over the place and live very different lives.  We aren't able to spend time together.  At times, it is hard to even stay in communication with each other.  Regardless of how our lives are now, I will forever cherish the memories the 4 of us made.  I will hope that one day, the 4 of us are able to spend time together again.  And, I pray that my children will not let the stresses of life and the changing of relationships tear apart their relationship.

Right now, Cecely and Titus are the best of friends...and I am going to enjoy every moment of that!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Remembering GrandBonnie...

My GrandBonnie was one of my heroes.  I have a treasure trove of wonderful memories of her.  She passed away three years ago from multiple-myeloma cancer.  I have spent countless hours grieving her loss, but celebrating the fact that she is in Heaven and no longer has pain.

As far back as I can remember, my GrandBonnie was an active part of my life.  I remember going to her house after school and playing for hours on end in her yard.  She had a tire swing on a big tree.  She always had snacks for my siblings and me...and I mean, the good stuff.  She had Nutty Buddy bars, fried apple pies, and ice cream sandwiches ready for our greedy little fingers and mouths.  GrandBonnie came to every school play, every recital, every church event...anything that we were a part of.  While she didn't vocalize it, she showed us that she was one of our biggest fans.                                                                                  
GrandBonnie was a fantastic cook.  She was of the good-old-fashioned school of cooking.  She used butter in everything...this was pre-Paula Deen, mind you.  Her biscuits literally melted when they hit the tongue.  Her pot roast cast an aroma that could be taste before entering the house.  At Christmas, she made the best treat of chocolate gravy to put on our biscuits.  I am thankful that GrandBonnie took the time to teach me to cook.  Every time I fix a roast, I get misty-eyed thinking of her.

GrandBonnie always had the most incredible flower beds.  Regardless of the season, there was always something in bloom.  Her gardens overflowed with azaleas, rhododendron, snapdragons, johnny-jump-ups, and clematis, to name a few.  There was nothing my GrandBonnie couldn't grow.  I'm not to that level yet in the yard, but I am striving very hard to keep that legacy going.

My GrandBonnie was a remarkable seamstress.  She altered all of my prom and homecoming gowns.  She made my spring formal dress for college.  I remember picking out the pattern and the material.  I loved that dress...she told me it was ugly.  She made my wedding dress.  It was exactly what I had dreamed of.  She also helped my Mama and me plan and put together my wedding.  GrandBonnie was an artist with scissors, material, and a sewing machine.  Sadly, I did not inherit that gift from her...I sure wish I had.  When I was younger, GrandBonnie would take my sister, Andrea, and me to work with her at Weddings Beautiful, the bridal salon where she did the alterations on gowns galore.  She would let us walk to the neighboring drug store to buy candy.  We would get to try on gowns, make signs for sales, and organize dresses for clients.  At lunch, she would take us to Burger King...we would get to order a Whopper Jr. and a milkshake...this was a big treat for us.

GrandBonnie was fearless.  We lived in a wooded area, and often had to deal with mice, opossums, snakes, raccoons, etc.  No living thing ruffled her feathers.  I can remember times where she chased opossums out of the garage, had me and my siblings round up mice in the kitchen, and can vividly remember her chopping off the heads of several snakes (which was fine by me...I hate snakes).  I remember when she was diagnosed with cancer.  She faced that without fear.  At every doctor appointment and treatment, she would ask insightful questions.  In the midst of the reality of facing death, she was the portrait of grace.

I remember when GrandBonnie was sick.  Thankfully, my family was able to move back to live closer to her.  I would spend mornings with her watching HGTV.  She would complain when "craft" shows came on...what was the sense in making things that would just sit around?  But, she loved gardening shows and remodeling projects.  As she became more sick, we would sit in silence.  The TV would give her a headache.  She stopped cooking, and wasn't able to eat.  I remember helping her pack when it was time to go to the hospital.  I often wonder if she knew it was her last trip when she was packing her favorite nightgowns and pillow with the pink satin case.  I count it pure joy that I was able to spend her last days with her.  I am thankful that I was able to sing hymns to her and hold her hand.  I remember the heartache I felt when she looked at me and told me she didn't know who I was.  That didn't stop me from wanting to be at her side nonstop.

My GrandBonnie was an amazing woman.  She taught me the value of hard work, perseverance, and showing grace in the most unlikely situations.  She was and is my role model.  It's funny, because now I catch myself saying things that GrandBonnie would say.  The other day, I told my friend not to throw out a container from BoJangles, because we could wash it out and use it again.  I spent the entire day out in the yard weeding my flower beds, moving rocks, arranging porch furniture, etc.  When I do those things, I feel close to my wonderful GrandBonnie. 

GrandBonnie did not spout off words of affection.  She did not shower me in hugs and kisses.  But, the all of the work she did for me, all the time she invested in me made me feel more loved than a hundred hugs.  The life lessons she instilled in me are priceless.