Deep Roots

Have you ever just listened to nature? Have you ever just fixed your eyes on the things in nature? Is there one thing that sticks out in your mind? Have you ever just stopped, breathed and pondered?

For me it’s always this particular tree. It stands on the bank adjacent to a magnificent park. Falls Park on Reedy in Greenville, SC. I simply cannot go through this park without seeing this tree. Obviously, others are mesmerized by it as well. Folks are consisting “oohing and ahhing”, taking photos with friends and family or like me, standing back and grabbing a picture of its root system.

What is that draws me to this tree? It reminds me of the importance of having a good root system to hold you in place. When I look at the roots over roots, it also reminds me of how we need to cover ourselves. The roots over roots ground the tree.

Primarily why this tree fascinates me is because I see so much of my life depicted in this root system. I see struggles. I see struggles on the inside and outside. I see a strong desire to stay grounded but as the roots overlap it reminds me of how frequently I mess up and I need a covering of God’s grace. I see an unrelenting ground that gives this tree it’s ability to stand. The roots go deep. They have to.

So, let me ask you. Is your root system grounded? Does it struggle to remain attached? The ground hasn’t moved. God, himself, is immovable. Maybe you have moved or strayed away. Just like some of the roots. Maybe you need a good covering of God’s grace. Maybe you feel like your past failures and mistakes make you unworthy. They don’t. God’s desire is to pour a heaping helping of grace and mercy on you.

Don’t allow your past to define you. Allow the presence of God and his great mercy and grace to supply everything you need for today.

Dig deep into him. It’s there you will find comfort, peace and rest.

“And he shall be like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields fruit in its season, and whose leaf does not wither, and whatever he does shall prosper”. Psalm 1:3

“Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.” Colossians 2:7

Advertisements

The Highest of Highs and the Lowest of Lows

Talk about a flurry of emotions yesterday. This one picture brought back everything from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows.

The day was Friday October 9, 2015. Early that morning I received a phone call from my friend Ashley. She was delivering the news we all knew but didn’t want to hear. There was nothing more the doctors could do for our friend Gary. His time on earth was drawing to a close.

I couldn’t even get mascara on because every time I started tears would flow. It was difficult to get ready that morning. I had to pick myself up because I had a mission. I had to go find shoes for Amy.

I collected my thoughts and got myself together. Combed every shoe store and department in Spartanburg, until I finally found a pair of shoes Amy agreed to! The funny part is that after 2 1/2 hours of shopping, the shoes didn’t work and we ended up returning them.

Anyway, I left myself time to run by the hospital to see Gary. It was a sad day for all of us! We had all hoped beyond all hope that he would recover.

That evening, Amy was crowned Homecoming Queen. I remember thinking, “Wow, God! Only you could take the blow off my otherwise hard day.”

Now, two years later that picture represents so much more. Truthfully, it was about the time that Ned started to cough. Chances are the lung cancer was already there. We just didn’t know it.

Amy was so eager to get out of her dress that Mom and Ned missed the photo-op with the dress and crown. Graciously, she put the crown back on but wasn’t about to change her clothes. The best part and I didn’t even catch it until yesterday was that she had her “Nitro” shirt on. This shirt was their HHS FCA shirts. Oddly enough, Nitro is the name Terry gave Ned years ago.

The urban dictionary defines Nitro the following way:

Ask: Describes a person, place or thing as being unequivocally, quintessentially spectacular and dumbfounding.

Without a doubt he has lived up to his name. He is very memorable. If you’ve ever met him; you’ll never forget him and he is definitely one of those folks who can leave you leave you astonished and amazed. You never quite know what he will say or what he will do!

I am just reminded by this picture how much can happen in the course of two years. It reminds me to not take things or people for granted. It reminds me that relationships are much more important that things. It also reminds me that even on the darkest of days, there is always light, hope and joy!

 

The Day She Thought She Could Fly

This is my precious Mamaw. Today is her birthday and she would’ve been 92! However, God called her home seven years ago. She joyfully went!

That’s the thing about her. She was always full of laughter and her laughter was highly contagious. She could laugh at anything and sometimes everything

Her biggest challenge was worry. Sometimes I would even accuse her of worrying thugs into existence. She literally did! Often times saying, “Honey, I just can’t help myself.”

She loved to tell stories. A true gift of storytelling, she had. We loved her stories, especially the ones she dubbed, “The old tim

Of those “old day” stories this one is by far my favorites. There was a character named Ms. Moodle and her dog named Poodle. Her personality and traits similar to that of Mary Poppins. She flew with an umbrella in one hand and her Poodle and purse in the other. My grandmother was fascinated by her adventurous spirit.

One day Mamaw decided that she was tired of her birthing life and needed to adventure far away.   So, she packed a few belongings in her purse, grabbed her umbrella and climbed on the flat roof of their house. Her brother stood below. She waved goodbye assuring him she’d be back some day, opened the umbrella and jumped. She hit the ground with an enormous thud and her brother laughing uncontrollably.

She learned very quickly that an umbrella won’t make you fly.  But I’ll let you in on a little secret, on the day God called her home she soared.

Happy birthday dear Mamaw.  Know you’re  eating the piece of cake with the most icing today.

The Day Everything Changed

This is my friend Gary. We go back a long way. Met at Tryon High School when we were 14 and Freshmen, ready to set the world on fire

Gary and I always had a unique friendship. We had a lot of common ground. In particularly, we both loved taking active roles in clubs and community. We both loved debate. Gary had a big personality. Magnetic. Charismatic.  The person everyone enjoyed being around.  If you were lucky enough to know Gary, you’re lucky enough.

After high school graduation, Gary and I kept loosely in touch until he moved to Simpsonville, SC in the early 2000’s. I can’t remember how we reconnected but he would, on occasion, meet me for lunch, with my kids, when I would take them to their Pediatric Dentist in Greenville.

Then he moved to the Raleigh area. Again, we kept in touch loosely but then tragedy happened. Both of Gary’s parents were killed in a car accident. After their deaths, Gary made the choice to come back home and help his sister run the family business. He sold his home. Packed his belongings and came back to Columbus, NC.

This is where our longtime friendship grew again. Terry and I would occasionally have Gary up to eat with us. Then I got a crazy hair-brained idea that we should start a dinner club with other local friends. We did. About once every 8-10 weeks, we would meet at local restaurants or each other’s homes.

IMG_8173

Then two years ago in late August I received a call from Monica, Gary’s wife. Gary had been admitted to the hospital earlier in the week and things didn’t look good for my friend. Without hesitation, I immediately went to Spartanburg Regional to see what was going on. Upon arrival, it was evident that my friend was in great distress. In fact, doctors weren’t certain he would live through the night. He did. Thus began an almost 7 weeks roller coaster of ups and downs.
During Gary’s hospitalization several friends volunteered to sit with him on a regular basis. This gave Monica a reprieve and also allowed her some time to work or get other necessities taken care of. Gary was not always joyful when I would show up. Mostly because there were times when my Terry mentality kicked into high gear and I didn’t shy away from confronting him on some pertinent issues.
One of the hardest conversations we was over the death of his parents. This was a real turning point for him. I asked him if he was angry with God and I asked him if he had ever grieved the loss! His answer to both did not shock me. “Yes, I am angry with God. No, I never had time to grieve.”
I knew and understood what that felt like. I was even able to tell him my story and how God had finally set me free from the bondage of anger that raged within me.
After that conversation, several days passed before I saw him again.
The next time I walked into his room, everything changed. His attitude. His countenance. His outlook. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt what I was seeing. But having an inquiring mind, means you ask the question. “Gary, you did it, didn’t you? You finally forgave God. You finally gave your heart to Jesus.”
A sweet smile spread across his face and a simple, “Yes!”, flowed from his mouth. In that moment, I knew for sure that no matter the outcome of Gary’s situation, everything was going to ok.
Gary’s life on earth ended a few weeks later and on that day Gary’s life in heaven began. The best part is I will see my friend again.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeith in him should  not perish, but have everlasting life”  John 3:16

IMG_8175

Love My People

In case you didn’t know, I had the awesome joy and privilege of working in a cabinet shop.  Not only did I have the best job in the world, I worked for a man with great integrity and impeccable skills with wood. A true master craftsman.

Needless to say, I sure wish I could have learned some of his skill at crafting. It takes years and patience.  I don’t have a lot of either. Oh, well. I did learn a thing or two.

One thing about cabinet doors, if you want them to work properly, they need to be hinged.  Hinges can be concealed, which means they’re on the inside of the door or they can be exposed.  Now, you can purchase these nifty little gadgets, which clip onto the concealed hinges, to make your cabinet doors close softly, hence the term soft-close doors. That’s just a side note and has nothing to do with this blog.

Back to the hinge.  A hinge not only makes the door work properly it also sets the door placement.  If a hinge is out of alignment, the door will not close properly or you may notice the doors are not aligning.   Just a slight adjustment can make all the difference.  So, in order for a door to open and close properly a hinge system must be correctly installed. Not only does the hinge system need to be correctly installed but the entire movement of the door depends on the hinge.  In other words, the door hinges on the hinge.

In Matthew 20 Jesus is being questioned by the Sadducees and when he finally silenced them the Pharisees got involved.  An expert in the Mosaic Law posed this question to Jesus, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?  And Jesus replied to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind’  This is the first and greatest commandment.  The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself  [that is, unselfishly seek he best and higher good for others] The whole Law and the [writings of the] prophets depend on (hinge on) these two commandments.’ Matthew 20:35-40 (italics mine)

Why is this so important?  Why does it matter?  First of all, the Pharisees were trying to trap Jesus.  Not only does Jesus give the right answer, he goes a step beyond and gives the best answer.  The truth is, if we love God with all of our being, heart, soul and mind.  It’s easy to love others, even those who aren’t like us.

For most of us, me included, it’s a real heart issue.  God knew it would be and that’s why he told the Israelites, to first and foremost love him.  He also understood that everything, both good and evil, flow out of the heart. Jeremiah 17:9 ESV, “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately sick, who can understand it? ”  Therefore, if we will give him our hearts, we give him our all. Lock. Stock. Barrel.

If you’re like me, the “thou shalt nots” will hang you up every time.  I spent far too many years trying to focus on the “thou shalt nots”. I’m one of those that have to prove things for myself.  I’m not a fan of denying myself pleasure or pain and let’s just say, I’ve learned many lessons the hard way.  I should have a Doctorate in the School of Hard Knocks. The soul is where the will resides.  For me, the battle goes on and on.  It’s the innermost part that deep emotion and expression are felt. If He has our soul, our deepest needs are met and our emotions can be kept in check.

One step beyond that is the mind.  For me that’s where the real problem is.  The mind plays tricks on you.  Battles are won and lost in the mind.  Temptation most often begins with a thought.  Giving in is the action to the thought.  How do we control our thoughts?  We don’t.  We have to take, “every thought captive to Him.”  He will give us the ability to control our thoughts, which will in turn will help control our mind.

I find it interesting that while, Amy, my daughter was at the Wailing Wall in Israel, she said God spoke very clearly to her that day and told her, “These are my people, all of them, regardless of race or religion and I want you to love them because you love me.”

She announced after her return that she wanted a tattoo.  She told her dad, “I already know where I want it and what I want it to say.”  Then she proceeded to tell him the story of her experience at the Wailing Wall and she’s going to have the words, “Love My People” written in Hebrew.  She wasn’t 18 and Terry wasn’t willing to sign for her to get one.  Instead he told her to wait for a year and pray about it and make sure that she wanted to do it.

Sure enough the year was almost up and she announced that she still felt to need to get the tattoo and she did.  (Picture above)

The interesting thing is that every time I see her tattoo, I am reminded that God tells me to love Him and love others.

Photo Cedit to WCU athletic photography

 

 

The time his heart grew three sizes

“And what happened then? Well, in Whoville they say that the Grinch’s small heart grew three sizes that day” Dr. Seuss

It should come as no surprise that I love Dr. Seuss. I do have four children and my oldest, pictured above, had a passion for books from a very young age. Before he learned to walk, he would crawl with books in his hand asking me to read. So we read and read and read some more. In fact many of the books I memorized as did he but that’s not the point of this blog post.

Ned, my dad, pictured above had the same experience of the Grinch and the above picture reminds me of the time his heart grew three sizes in a day.

One important thing to understand is that Ned has never, and I mean never shied away from speaking his mind. He’s blunt! At any rate, when he found out I was pregnant with Ryan, he was not extremely overwhelmed with excitement. Actually, as I recall, he wasn’t really happy about it at all.

It wasn’t that he didn’t want grandchildren, he just didn’t think I was old enough or mature enough to be having a child. He was also concerned that I had not been married long enough and was concerned the marriage may not work.

He didn’t meet Ryan until he was three months old. You see, Ryan was born in Bremerton, Washington, my Mom and Grandmother were the only two of my family to meet Ryan, before we traveled to North Carolina.

Ryan and I stayed in North Carolina for about six weeks before returning to our home in Washington. Needless to say, it only took about a day for Ned to get attached to this little fella and the longer we stayed the more attached he became.

Two days before our departure is the first time I remember ever seeing Ned cry. He broke down like a baby and cried because his heart had grown so in love with his first grandchild. It hurt his heart not knowing how long he would have to go before seeing him again. That’s how I know that his heart grew three sizes the day they first met.

The above picture is taken from that time period and a great reminder that sometimes the greatest gifts of love come in the smallest of packages.

Was it worth it?

I’ve been avoiding this post like the plaque. A few weeks ago when God began churning my heart, I told Him, “Not now”. Yes, like I’ve said before delayed obedience is disobedience and I disobeyed.

I think as I write you will see why I avoided writing. However, the urge is so great within me, I can no longer resist.

As you know my biological father died when I was 7. He died from Melanoma and you can read some of his story in my blog post, My sweetest sorrow.

Now, we are at another crossroads with cancer. My stepfather, Ned. He was diagnosed 18 months ago with Stage 4 Atypical Non-small cell adenocarcinoma lung cancer. It sucks. I’m just not going to sugar coat anything about it.

A few months back, well technically a few years ago God began to stir this thought and idea about these two men I have had to privilege of calling Dad.

First you must understand the first to understand the second.

Mack, my dad, had a strong enduring faith in God. He hoped beyond all hope that one day a cure for Melanoma would be discovered. Knowing full well it would not be in his lifetime, he allowed the doctors at Baptist Hospital (Wake Forest) to try new treatments on him. He was their guinea pig. His philosophy and mindset was this is how he could help others.

Another thing to understand about my dad is that he never shied away from sharing his faith. He firmly grasped and held tight to his belief in Jesus. He had strong convictions about sharing his faith and the above picture is a treasure straight out of his Bible. His desire was to see that no one would perish without knowing Jesus. His chief goal in life.

I believe that through his death his chief goal was reached and realized. When Jesus tells us in John 15:13 “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

Bear with me while I explain.

When Mom and Ned began dating Ned wasn’t really living out a full life with Christ at the center. He had made a profession of faith but wasn’t really living a life totally reflective of Christ.

As their relationship began to grow so did his love for Jesus. Eventually leading up to his rededication. In perfect Ned style it was not a haphazard decision, it was done with intent and passion. A decision he will tell you was the best choice he ever made aside from marrying my Mom.

The reality here is that without my dad having died, Ned may have never been able to experience the blessed life that only Jesus can give. If you ask Mack if it was worth dying for he would say, “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

FOMO

One evening at the Charleston Harbor, we stood and watched this sailboat.

I have never been on a sailboat. I’m not even sure my stomach could take it.

I found it fascinating to watch as the sailboat came from one direction, which initially seemed so far away, sailed right in front of us and then continued to move in the opposite direction until it was again barely visible.

A thought raced through my head, what have I missed out on by never going sailing? I pondered this thought, it didn’t take long for me to answer my own thought. Nothing, absolutely nothing because I have no desire to go.

The funny thing is that longer I lingered, the harder I tried to convince myself that I must be missing out. They looked like they were having a blast.

Funny how this is the very way we get caught up in things that are not good for us.

We watch others around us. They seem to be having a blast without us. Even though we know it’s beyond anything we desire, we continue to watch and observe. We convince ourselves that we must be missing out on something. In today’s world it’s called FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). So, we cave in, even when we know it is not good for us and most times not even something we have a desire to do. It’s simply because we might be missing out.

It is this fear that leads to many failed marriages and solid relationships. This fear drives wedges, even great chasms in families This fear drives, even the best brightest, to do detestable things.

So, how do we combat this fear of missing out?

Examine the motive. Why is this so compelling? Am I just trying to fit in? Am I afraid my life has or will pass me by?

Examine the heart. “The human heart is deceitful of all things and desperately deceitful. Who really knows how ad it is” Jeremiah 17:9 (NLT) Is there some hurt of pain from your past that had been unresolved that may be the driving force behind your decision.

Count the cost. Every decision both good or bad will cost something. Is it really worth the cost? Is it something you’re willing to live with the rest of your life. Is it a choice you can live with the rest of your life? Be willing to pay the price.

If I had someone tell me this long ago my choices might have been vastly different. Who’s to say? The fact is that I fight my own battles with FOMO even now. This is the reason I’ve always asked God to never let me forget where I came from. It keeps me humble and pliable and keeps my heart from wandering too far away.

The gift of laughter

The person who can bring the spirit of the laughter in the room is indeed blessed.” Bennett Cerf

It’s obvious is you watch my video posts that I am not the comedian in our relationship. Terry is. He’s witty and that’s what attracted me to him when we first met.

In fact, the first time he came for dinner, he spent the better part of 30 minutes telling my mom and sister that his parents served in the Armed forces in Korea and that’s why they chose Kim for his middle name. He had them convinced! I finally had to call his bluff.

When Mom and I worked for Barker Construction, she answered the phones. He would call and change his voice. Pretending to be a customer or vendor and at the right moment, when he knew he had fooled her, would start howling with laughter. I heard her from the other room laughing and saying, “Terry, you crazy thing, you!”

He’s just downright funny. He can’t help himself and it comes out naturally. You never know when it’s gonna happen either. He even laughs at himself. Just kills me and makes me laugh that much more.

I’m pretty much the opposite. I have very little wit and I am not funny. I just like to laugh and others seem to follow suit. I’m not a “Debbie downer”, I’m just a little more serious minded and can’t think of quick retorts. I’m one of those that come up with things weeks later. However, every once in awhile it happens for me. Something will just roll off my tongue and I surprise myself. Indeed, I’ve been around Terry way too long.

So, the other evening, after our date we stopped by the Fresh Market to pick up a few things. About half way home, I remembered I needed contact lens solution. I told Terry to turn around because we weren’t that far from Walgreens. He looked at me and said, ” And where is Walgreens?”

I replied, “On the corner of happy and healthy, of course!”

He didn’t laugh. He didn’t even utter as much as a soft chuckle.

Shocked that he wasn’t laughing, I said, “Really dude? You didn’t even laugh at that. That was funny.”

“I wasn’t thinking about what you said, I was just thinking about where I needed to go!” He replied

Needless to say, the past few days he’s had to endure hardship over not laughing at what I said.

And what say you? Funny or not funny. Now, I know good and well I can’t come up with a slam sandwich or Jethro Bodine Calmpett sandwich. I can’t put a cowboy hat on my head and start dancing around and singing. I can’t serenade him before the church service begins. I can’t drape a towel over m arm and pretend to be a waiter at some fancy restaurant. But when I say something funny, he should laugh.

Proverbs 15:13 A joyful heart makes a cheerful face, but with a heartache comes depression.

Endless Summer Nights

Yesterday I drove to East Fork Baptist church to spend a little time with family, celebrating the recent marriage of Andy and Cassie.

On the way, the winding road always leads me to familiar places and reminds me of days gone by.

For years before the Rosman Highway was a four lane, it was easier to take Country Club Road, which intersects with Island Ford Road. The trip seemed endless. It’s really not that far but when you’re going to Grandma and Grandpa’s and your little heart is full of excitement and anticipation of romping around the property and playing with cousins. Well, it just takes forever.

I found a marker. A big red barn situated almost at the corner of County Club and Island Ford. I knew when we arrived at the big red barn, Grandma’s was a few short minutes away. Eagerness and anticipation most often overtook my body and I could hardly wait to grab the door handle, fling the door wide open and run up the stairs.

What was so special about going to Grandma’s? The people, of course. Aunts, Uncles and cousins galore. A real family affair. Also, the food. If Reese is your last name then it’s synonymous with food. We like to eat.

While the adults were doing boring things like talking and catching up and preparing the smorgasbord or food, the kids, if you were old enough, were outside playing. Kick ball. Tag. Red rover. Mother may I, and the list goes on….

My favorite memories are the lazy, long, hot summer days when we would go for dinner and stay until dark. No one ever got in a hurry to leave, giving us kids ample opportunity to scheme and devise plans to either stay with Grandma or stay with each other. It was simply the best of times.

Once we moved from Pisgah Forest to Columbus, NC, we weren’t able to go as often. It was never quite the same. How I treasure those endless summer nights at Grandma and Grandpas. The little rock house still stands today and every time I pass by, I am reminded of the joy and delight of days gone by.