Don’t Buy Degree!!!

A few days ago Terry told me he needed some new deodorant.  He said, “I think I’ll try a new one, maybe like what Alex has.  It smells good and I’m not sure mine is working as well anymore.”

I remembered having seen a 2 pack of unopened deodorant and brought it to him.  “Here’s a new one for you try.  Now you won’t have to buy any.”

He took it from me.  Sniffed it and said, “I think that’ll work.”

I didn’t think any more about it until this morning.  He said, “Um, I think we’re going to have to go get some deodorant.  This stuff isn’t working, at least I don’t think it is.”

A few minutes later he raised up his hands over my shoulders to give me a kiss.  Smelling an offensive odor, I said, “Oh gross, you’re right you definitely need new deodorant.  Your pits never smell that hideous.”  He tried to kiss me again but by this time, I was laughing so hard, the tender moment was completely ruined.  “Dude, it’s bad it’s really bad.”

He chuckled and said, “Every day I kept smelling it and it didn’t smell right.  Didn’t have that refreshing smell like my other one.”

Thankfully, he had just enough left in the “good smelling” stuff to use until we could get to the store and get him some new deodorant.

Just a note to you ladies and men out there, if your man is hardworking and sweats, Degree is probably not the deodorant for him.  You should not buy it.  It will disappoint you.

And why did I tell you this story?  It’s funny  and I want you to laugh but I want to show how providence works.

If Terry  hadn’t needed to get deodorant, we would never have run into some special folks today.

When we were walking out of Walgreens toward Terry’s truck, I heard a voice from behind call to me.  I turned around to see Chris.  Chris was one of our “big kids” (that’s another story for another time).  I don’t know how long it’s been since we’ve seen him but it’s been a good while.

After we exchanged hugs and greetings, I asked, “How are you?”

“Ok” he replied with a somber tone.  “Dad died yesterday.”

“I am so sorry.  I had no idea.” And I gave him another big hug and Terry did as well.

We were able to talk with him, his mom and sister for a few minutes and offer our sympathy to all of them.  Terry also had the opportunity to tell them how he and Doug would razz each other before Doug retired from GE.  And in classic Terry style, he had us all laughing before we said goodbye.

I am one of those people who believe that everything happens for a reason and for a purpose.

 

Pure Joy

“Consider it pure joy whenever your face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”  James 1:2-3

I’m not sure about you but when I first look at this verse, I don’t like it.  I find myself asking the question.  “God, do you really mean that you want me to count my trials as ‘pure joy’? Am I missing something? Are you missing something?”

He says, “Yes, that’s exactly what I am telling you to do.  You’re the one missing the point.  I understand pain and trials more than anyone.  I created you in my image.  I feel every ounce of your pain from whatever trial you may be facing.  I really get it.  The problem is you don’t”

I argue, “How can that be?  I mean the past two years have been some of the hardest in my life and you tell me to consider  or think about or ponder these things as pure, unfiltered, untainted joy.  Ok!  I’m not buying what you’re selling.”

“You’re not buying what I’m selling because you’re refusing to see the whole picture.  You’re refusing to see the whole picture because you’re only looking at the circumstances and your feelings regarding those trials.  What you fail to realize is what I can do in your heart when you don’t base everything on feelings.  Feelings are temporary.  They come and go.  Happiness is a feeling based on emotions.  Like the moon, emotions can wax and wane.  What I want to give you is joy.  Joy is not merely a feeling based on emotions.  Joy resonates the soul.  Joy is the light from within the soul that can illuminate the face even in the darkest of days. Joy is what makes the heart content and allows faith to rise.” He gently replies.

Again I question, “So, in order for my faith to increase and be stretched, I need trials?  In these trials you teach me.  I may not always like the trial but I can have “pure joy” because it’s for my good. Honestly, I’m still not wholly convinced.  I mean I like having a pity party every now and again.  I like sympathy from time to time.”

“I know.  Remember I am the God who sees and know all about it.  I know everything.  The problem with sympathy and pity parties is they take the focus off me and place all the focus back on you and your emotions. It’s precisely what I want to remove from you.  I want to give you my joy.”

“Ok.  I will trust you.  I can’t promise that I will always consider my trials ‘pure joy’ but I will try.  I will teach others when I can and I am sure there will be times when you will have to send someone to remind me.”

Maybe you don’t have to reason through scripture the way I do.  I wish I could simply take God at His word.  I can’t.  It’s not my nature.  But it’s through reasoning it out that I am able to have a better understanding of what it says and what I need to learn.  I’ll admit, I’m not always a fan of these lessons.  They are hard and sometimes long; but if you’ve ever been around someone who’s been through the wringer with trials and they have a countenance that glows, you know they’ve got that unspeakable joy deep, deep down in their hearts.  It takes trials to bring about such joy.  The cost is great but the reward of joy and peace is greater still.

 

 

 

The Best $6.00 money could buy

I just returned from a high school basketball game.  I was running late because I’d stopped by moms and I almost talked myself out of going.  I rationalized.  First of all I am a Reese and “late” is a part of our vocabulary.  They will understand.  Second, I was only going to miss a small portion of the 1st quarter, not a big deal.

Entered into the gym.  Paid my $6.00. Located my family and proceeded to sit down.  Once I was in place, I leaned back to ask my Aunt how my Uncle was feeling.  Pointing  left of the bleachers at ground level she said, “There he is.”  Sure enough sitting in a chair, watching the game there he was.  My heart did a little leap and I had to fight to keep the tears away. I always think if I let the tears free fall then I’ll cause someone else to do the same. I guess it really wouldn’t have mattered.  They would’ve been happy tears.

My uncle has terminal colon cancer.  He was diagnosed a little less than a year ago.  He received chemo for a short period of time, until the doctors said there was really nothing more that they could do to help him.  The tumor in his colon is inoperable and unfortunately other vital organs are also being ravaged by the beast.

A few months ago, I went to visit him and quite honestly, I really didn’t expect to see him again, and most certainly not at a basketball game.  The day I visited he was basically bedridden and light bothered his eyes.  He was thin and gaunt.  In fact, he told me that day, “You know medically speaking, I probably won’t be here much longer.  But who’s to say? Only God knows.”

For the next few weeks I anticipated a call…you know the one…it never happened.  Thanksgiving came and went.  No call.  Christmas came and went.  No call.  Of course, I’d been keeping up with him through cousins and I knew he was doing some better, eating more, gaining some weight back, nothing short of a miracle.  But never in a million years did I expect to walk into the basketball game tonight to see him sitting watching his youngest grandson play basketball.

His grandson is a senior this year.  This game was the first game he had been to all season. In fact, it’s the first game he’s felt like coming to this season. A playoff game and quite possibly the last time he will see his grandson play basketball.

A few things I will take away from this moment.  Firstly, I am thankful I didn’t let myself talk myself out of going.  I’m thankful I had that urge to go. (I do believe that God gives you these urges but it’s our responsibility to listen.)  Secondly, while statistics are just numbers and God knows the exact time and place when he will call us home.  Finally, I just believe that our God is a God of miracles.  Miracles aren’t necessarily the ones that come through complete physical healing but come by way of allowing a grandfather, who medically speaking should not here, the opportunity to watch his grandson play one more time.

It was a priceless moment and the best $6.00 I’ve ever spent.

Thank you God for reminding me that You are a God of miracles both small and large.

A little song came to mind as I finished writing:

“I believe in miracles, I’ve seen a soul set free  Miraculous the change in one redeemed through Calvary.  I’ve seen the lily push it’s way up through the stubborn sod.  I believe in miracles for I believe in God.” John Peterson

 

 

His one and only

I’m a sap for a good love story. I am particularly fond of this one.

I guess you could say they’ve known each other their whole lives.  They were married far longer than they were single, 66 years 10 months to be exact. They met in grade school.  In fact, my grandmother and her brother had to walk about 3/4 mile to catch the bus.  The bus stop just happened to be at my grandfather’s house. Some may say it was luck or coincidence, I prefer to call it a planned intervention by God to mingle these two hearts together.

In time, their friendship grew into love.  In fact, my grandfather said, “She’s always been my one and only.  There has never been any other woman I have ever loved.”

As their love grew, so did their desire to get married.  The only caveat.  They were young.  He was 16.  She was 17.  Their parents didn’t object to marriage but told them they would have to elope to South Carolina.  They did.  On a balmy July day, Troy and Colleen along with their two witnesses, traveled from Hickory, NC to South Carolina and eloped.

This was the story I heard from my grandmother for years and years.  It was only the night before she died that I learned the rest of the story.

“Well honey, lets just say I grew up and became 18 quickly,” Popaw said.  My initial thought was he was simply saying marriage grew him up quickly.  The curl of his lips told me that it meant something entirely different.  Then it hit me.  I knew exactly what he was telling me.

“Oh my gosh, you lied about your age, didn’t you?” I inquired.

“One of us had to be 18 and I was the logical choice.  All I had to do was sign a document stating I was 18.” He replied.

“Are you kidding?  I didn’t know you ever told a lie.” I blurted.  Suddenly, I realized that this was his first admission.  They had never told anyone, not even their own children. “Of all the stories she told me, not once did she ever tell me your secret.”

In the stillness of the moment I could feel the satisfaction rising in Mamaw, even in her comatose state, she seemed satisfied that their secret was out and I knew it.

As we continued to talk, I realized that the majority of their formative years were spent together.  Here we were at the end of her life and he knew every detail of her entire life history.  And she knew his life history as well.  They had grown up together and old together. Their lives were molded together. They loved through thick and thin.  They were friends and lovers.  Being together never got old, they always found a reason to laugh and talk and love. Their lives had truly become one.

Finally the time had come for me to go. I needed sleep in the worst way and Popaw needed to be with her.  His beloved.  They needed to spend their last night together just as they had their first….alone with each other.

“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.  It does not demand its own way.  It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.  It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.  Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful and endures through every circumstance…..Love never fails”  I Corinthians 13:4-8 NLT

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

19 years and counting

LToday just seems like the appropriate day to get this blog started.  On this day, 19 years ago God blessed us with a 7lb 9oz baby girl, Amy Grace.  That very same day, God spared my life and gave me a new lease on life.  Let me explain.

Two days prior to Amy’s birth, I looked like a beached whale.  I was waddling like a duck and hadn’t slept in two weeks.  She wasn’t due for another two weeks.  I took Terry with me to by OB appointment for both moral support and to keep me from flooding the doctors office with tears.  Fortunately, Dr. Oldham saw my misery and said, “Ok.  You can either come in on Thursday the 12th or Friday the 13th and we will induce.”  Without hesitation Terry spoke up and said, “We’ll take the 12th because I don’t like the idea of having a baby on Friday the 13th.”

Upon leaving the office, I was elated.  “Only two more days of misery, ” I thought to myself, “I can deal with two days.”

We were up early on the 12th. We made our way to the hospital and at 7:00 the Pitocin drip began.  Didn’t take long for contractions to begin and by 1:45, I was 5cm dilated and contractions were steady, actually it seemed as if they were increasing not only in strength but frequency by the minute.  Around 2:15 when they checked me again, I was 8cm dilated. They called down for an epidural, but by the time it reached the room, there was no time.  By 2:35 pm, I was fully dilated and delivering.  We were elated our baby girl had arrived. We knew ahead of time the baby was a girl.  We just hadn’t told anyone, except one dear friend, mainly because I didn’t believe the ultrasound.

Our room quickly filled with family and friends to greet this new little life.  Within about 30 minutes of her delivery, I began to feel odd and had a weird painful sensation in my abdominal area.  The nurse insisted it was my uterus contracting but I said, “I don’t think so.  This is my fourth child and I’ve never had this sensation before.”  She did nothing.

Fortunately, my friends Ashley and Bryon showed up.  She came in the room and said, “You don’t look good.  What’s wrong?”  I told her about my abdominal pain and she immediately went to the nurses station and told them to get some help because my color wasn’t good.

As soon as the doctor came in and examined me, blood gushed out.  It actually felt like a chain link fence was coming out of me.  Horrified, she began packing me to stop the bleeding.  For the next few minutes, I felt almost normal and then it happened again.  This time, she packed me again, but due to the significant loss of blood, a call to have blood delivered for a transfusion was necessary.  As soon as the blood arrived, I’m guessing I looked so bad and had lost so much blood, Dr. Arcara was literally screaming at the nurse, “Squeeze the damn bag or I will.”

After a third time of packing and no control over the bleeding, it was determined I would have to have emergency surgery.  They had no idea what they would find.  I remember vaguely her asking me if I could sign the release for them if a hysterectomy was necessary.

Due to the seriousness of the bleeding, Dr. Oldham was also called in to assist Dr. Arcara. The next thing I remember is waking up to the sound of Dr. Zahn’s (the anesthesiologist) saying, “You look like Stay Puft the marshmallow man.  We had to pump you full of fluids.  You’re lucky to be alive.”

The next day, Friday the 13th, Dr. Oldham came by for rounds and said, “You had Victoria and I scared to death.  We’ve never experienced anything like that in our careers.  What happened was your cervix ripped over an artery and blood was just pumping out into your body. If not for her quick decision to do surgery, we wouldn’t have found it.  Also, they told me that during delivery, Amy had a true knot in her umbilical cord and it’s probable that if you had gone another two weeks, as she grew the knot would’ve gotten tighter and quite possibly taken her life.”

I don’t know about you but knowing that God provided, not one, but two miracles of life in a day for our family makes me feel truly blessed and humbled.  I stand in awe and wonder of his miracles and I realize that I would not be here without His grace and mercy.  My story could’ve ended on February 12, 1998 but God had bigger plans for me.  He choose to keep me here to tell my story and it is all for His glory.