Archive for April, 2011

Forever and Ever, Amen

My brother and I sang at my Papaw’s funeral on Good Friday. I’ve sung at a lot of events, mostly church-related. I’ve sung at a few funerals. I would consider this the biggest challenge to my emotions I’ve ever dealt with.

I prayed hard. I begged my heavenly Father to keep a tight hand on my heart and not let my feelings surface until after it was all over. He answered my prayer, and gave me even more than I asked for. On Thursday night, I was able to greet the hundreds that came through the visitation line with a smile, and God even gave me the grace to remember most of their names or find a connection with them, even if they weren’t there to see me or my immediate family.

On Friday, I woke up and before I even sat up in bed, I began to pray for composure and that my voice would honor God and my efforts would please my family. I prayed for my brother the same thing, and that he would be able to play the guitar beautifully. We got through the medley of songs and the slideshow without a hitch. God held our hearts and sang those songs for us, even though a good many of them were old country cheatin’ songs.

My Papaw loved music. He loved Jim Reeves and Eddy Arnold. He played guitar and gave my brother his first guitar. As early as I can remember, he has sung those old songs to us. John Mark and I wanted to pick songs that would make him smile. John Mark started with “Cattle Call” and we went into “Have I Told You Lately that I Love You” (The Jim Reeves song, not Van Morrison’s). My brother sang “He’ll Have to Go”, which was our Papaw’s favorite, and then I sang a bit from “Tennessee Waltz”. John Mark then sang “Yonder Comes a Sucker” and then we both sang the Randy Travis song, “Forever and Ever, Amen”. After that, we did “You Are My Sunshine”, and then some hymns.

I told you all of that because it helps me to remember, and I don’t want to ever forget how good God was to us that day. Being with family, being loved on by such sweet friends, it all was a blessing.

Today is Resurrection Sunday. I know the hope we have in a life eternal through Jesus Christ. More than ever in my life I desire for others to know that hope as well. God has been moving in my heart in the past year, and I’ve never been more certain that our main job on earth is to share the gospel with those who don’t know, and disciple those that do, but need encouragement in their faith. It’s more than bunnies and eggs. As a matter of fact, those things irritate me. It’s more than a celebration of new life, illustrated by pictures of baby animals. It’s more than just forgiveness of sins. It’s a life given back to Jesus for the life He gave for ours. It’s a daily laying down of self to take on the person of Christ and being obedient to his word because we’re free to do that. It’s taking every thought and action captive under his Lordship. It’s claiming him as the most important person in our world and wanting to please him every day, not just claiming him as the ransom for our sins. Easter is daily. Easter is life. Easter is the reason for our faith.

I probably will sound harsh here, but it’s on my mind . Several well-meaning guests in the visitation line mentioned that Papaw was having the time of his life now that he’s reunited with my Mamaw. I hope I was not offensive when I replied with a smile, “Well, he’s with Jesus. Mamaw is just a bonus.” Heaven is NOT a big family reunion. We’re not going there to continue our live on earth, just with no pain. I read the other day, “God is not a big us”, and I agree! Heaven is not a perfect version of this life! If it were, then it would be about us, not God. Honestly, I don’t want to go somewhere that is about me. I’ve had enough of me.

My Papaw is at the foot of Jesus on his throne, hearing the angels sing “Worthy is the Lamb! Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty! Who was, and is, and is to come!” That is what he’s doing today. I joke about Mamaw asking him when he got there what everybody has been up to since she left, but I know the truth. Neither one of them care. I believe they see us and love us, but are not affected by us at all, because we have no needs except for Jesus. We will have no emotional needs and need acceptance from no one. We will be whole in Christ, and know who we are in him, and we will see him as he is, in beautiful glory.

The emotions that were held back on Thursday and Friday have flooded my heart (and my eyes!) the past two days. It hurts. My heart physically aches. I didn’t know grief felt like this. I don’t think I fully experienced it with Mamaw, because we were so busy with Christmas, then Aidan started at a new school and life moved on. But now it hurts. I know it will get better, and I have the hope of eternal life and I’ll see them again. But there is so much finality to loss, and I’m having trouble dealing with it.

I pray for my family. I know if I feel this way, then we all do. My Mom and her brother and sister have a lot ahead of them. I know my brother and cousins are hurting too. In the grief, however, I am overwhelmed with the reality that everyone of us knows Jesus. It’s precious to be surrounded by people with hope. To be able to say “See you later” to someone you love and know that no matter what happens to them, you will be with them in eternity.

Thank you, my sweet friends, for loving us so well. There is no way to write a thank you card that can express how much I have needed the hugs and calls, and you have given. I am blessed.

Happy Resurrection Day. He is Risen, Indeed!

April 24, 2011 at 7:10 pm 2 comments

Boots

I hesitate to write this post, because it could be considered cliche’, since I wrote one for Mamaw and all. But this is how I deal. I use words. I don’t always use them well, but words are how I process my feelings. I wish I could just go work out or sew something or do something productive like that, but this is what I do.

My Papaw’s name is Boots. That’s not his given name, obviously, but that’s what he’s called by everyone. I always thought it was the coolest thing to have a Papaw named Boots. Nobody else did, and I love being different.

He’s a brilliant man. He ran a business for years and years and became very successful and respected. Everyone that dealt with him thought the world of him. He’s honest and kind and funny. I admire him and revere him. In many ways, he’s a hero to me. I love him immensely and have spent the last few days remembering some of the wonderful things we did together.

I’m nostalgic right now because he’s getting ready to be with Jesus. He’s very sick, and will soon be healed in the presence of God. I can’t fathom how amazing that will be. I know he’s ready, but we will miss him so much. Those of us who are blessed to call him Papaw have so many wonderful memories of being with him.

One of my favorite memories is going to see Randy Travis in concert with him when I was about 13 or 14. We had decent seats, but I wanted to go up close to the stage in the crowd. Papaw wouldn’t let me because he was afraid he’d lose me. That means so much now. I wore a blue button down shirt and jeans, and we sang every song and laughed and had the best time. It was one of the best dates I’ve ever been on.

When I was much older, and Michael and I were dating, Papaw took me fishing one day. We had planned for a week to go, and the night before, Michael broke up with me. I was devastated, and fishing was just what I needed. We caught about sixty bream and ate sandwiches that Mamaw had packed in the cooler. We talked about a lot of things, but what I remember most is him saying that Mamaw was the finest woman he knew. That she was so good at everything she did. I’d never heard him really express how he felt about her, even though I knew he loved her. That was a great day.

When Michael proposed to me, we went by their house and showed Mamaw the ring, but Papaw was already in bed asleep. The next morning at church, I stopped by his Sunday School class and motioned for him to come out into the hallway. He was alarmed and thought something was the matter. I showed him the ring and told him I was getting married. He immediately shook Michael’s hand, patted him on the back and said, “Welcome.” I treasure that memory, too.

I picture him cleaning fish in the sink downstairs in the shop. I would sit on the top step and watch him clean those fish and ask a million questions about the anatomy of a catfish. I can also picture him sitting beside the fish fryer down in the shop and cooking those catfish.

I picture him in his camouflage, coming in from a successful hunt. I remember seeing deer hanging in the backyard and being so grossed out, but proud that my Papaw could shoot anything he aimed at.

I remember him taking Michael and me to Tuscola, his hometown, and teaching me to shoot a pistol. We fished a bit, but then spent an hour or so shooting. We stopped at Lena to get a hamburger and a cho-cho (chocolate covered ice cream on a stick) on the way home. I loved that day, too.

He was a master at turning a stressful situation into a funny one. When Mamaw would get on a tear about something, he’d turn to whoever would listen and say, “Hey Anne (or whoever), did you hear the one about….” and everyone would laugh. It just made Mamaw madder, but the tension was gone.

I remember being in the fifth or sixth grade and having a dance recital. Papaw was not a fan of dancing. I distinctly remember looking out in the audience and seeing him sitting there, watching my recital. That means he had to sit through a lot of other girls’ dances as well. Bless him. I think he did it because we always went to Dairy Queen afterwards.

When I attended my Senior Prom, he and Mamaw came over while we took pictures. He asked me if I was going to wear a turtleneck under my dress. It was not an immodest dress at all, but he wanted me to be covered up!

I rode to many, many ballgames with him and Mamaw. I have so many pictures in my head of the three of us cruising in the Buick and singing songs. We sang hymn after hymn. We’d drive through the Delta and Papaw would tell me about all the crops and what it was like to farm. I wish I had a tape of every word he said.

I remember sitting in Piccadilly Cafeteria with him one Sunday after church. It was just my family and Papaw and he told us stories about the war. He told so many stories we’d never heard, and it was fascinating to discover that part of his life.

In high school, when my cousins and I wanted to go “riding around”, we were told by our loving parents that we could go if we took Papaw with us. I think that would have done Papaw in if we’d have made him go, but we stayed home and he was off the hook.

I can hear him calling my cousin Lucy “Lucytwo”. He always said it fast like that. She loved to fish with him, and is by far, the best hunter of all of the grandkids. He had beautiful hunting dogs, and I can picture him out there with them. My cousin Jenni was always the best at helping with that. She loved those dogs. He also came to her ballgames in high school and I’d love watching him watch her and Sarah play. He would take my cousin Ro to get the oil changed in his truck. He also came to most of Ro and Lucy’s basketball games in high school. My cousin Sarah definitely inherited his business sense and ability to manage money and make good decisions. She reminds me of him in personality. Dan, another cousin, lived with Mamaw and Papaw for a long time. He was there for them when their health started to fail, and he and Papaw have a beautiful bond that shows no sign of a generational gap. My brother, John Mark, is an artist because of Papaw. They’d sit in church and Papaw would draw forest animals and JM would copy them. Papaw encouraged his art talent and sent him to lessons. As for me, I laughed at his jokes, listened to his stories, and hopefully showed him how much I love him.

I don’t play basketball, draw, hunt or fish, but I know he loves me. He loves us all. I’ve heard him say for years how proud he is of his family. We are so proud of him. We are who we are largely because of who he is and what he has taught us. I will always be honored to be his granddaughter.

April 18, 2011 at 2:56 am 3 comments

Whole Lotta Livin’ Goin’ On

We’ve been running at full speed ahead these days. Some of us have been trying to actually RUN, which is a crazy accomplishment, but not really. (I’m talking about me, and I’m not a runner, I just like to pretend to be so I can wear my ipod on my arm and listen to Louie Giglio preach without being interrupted.)

Here are some of our recent shenanigans:

Aidan had Colonial Day at school. He rocked a fancy white shirt and a vest that was mine in college, and a white neck scarf that he loved so much, he asked if he could wear a scarf regularly. I told him sure, but I didn’t know many eight year old boys that sported scarves. He said, “Well, Mushmouth and Russell wear one!”

That’s when you know you’ve watched a lot of Fat Albert.

I had to make Gingersnap cookies for the class that day, and they are now Aidan’s favorite cookies. I don’t know why, but that makes me laugh. Don’t most boys go for Chocolate Chip or Peanut Butter? My son likes the ones with ground cloves.

Here’s Aidan in all of his scarf-wearing glory:

Aidan’s the one in the middle. I love that his buddy is holding up a peace sign. Can’t you just imagine the colonists during the Revolutionary War holding up their fingers and saying in their proper British accents, “Peace, man”?

Also, for any of my college friends that read this, yes, that’s the vest I wore to our junior year Informal. Why I remember that, I’ll never know, but my Mamaw bought me that outfit. It had coordinating pants that I tore during my senior year when Michael and I took a road trip to Nashville to see Phantom of the Opera and it snowed and I slipped on the ice and tore my pants. I have kept the vest all of these years and never worn it, but I can’t bear to let it go. “Memories…of the way we were….”

So anyway, Aidan also had a big weekend recently. He invited two of his friends to spend the night. We’ve never done this before. It was awesome. The girls stayed with my mom and dad, and those boys had a blast. Aidan got to have some much needed “guy time”. At one point in the evening, they turned out every light in the house and hunted down Michael with Nerf guns. I took cover in my room with my computer and stayed far away. I got tickled, though, at one of the kids. Every time it would get quiet, he’d be walking around in the dark and would say, “Okay guys, I’m getting a little creeped out.” Bless him.

I have pictures from that great event, but I can’t find my SD card reader, and why would I get up now to find it? I’m comfortable.

The girls have also had their share of adventure. My dad has started doing pottery/sculpting. He makes gnomes. You read that correctly. They are the cutest, most terrific things ever. He’s made several, and they are all different. Molly has been dying to try her hand at the gnome making, so this weekend, she got to make some “baby gnomes”. They are super cute. And so is she.

Paisley has been busy talking about her friends and wanting to learn to send text messages on my phone. I refuse to teach her, because she already has more friends than anyone else that lives here. Plus, she can’t read yet, and I don’t want to be responsible for what comes out of her fingers.

I’m so proud of all of them, I can hardly stand it.

Michael has traveled a bit. He spent a week in Idaho and is finishing up the course he’s teaching at a local university. We’re getting ready to lead a group from our church back to England this summer. I’m so honored to get to do that again! I’ve gotten to do some singing and a tiny bit of writing and speaking, and I’m so grateful for every little opportunity to use that stuff to give glory to God. He is always the reason for doing anything.

So that’s us. There’s so much more to tell, and more pictures to show, but again, I’d have to find that card reader. We’re praying about some big life stuff, and looking for answers to big prayers. I’m excited about our future, and really pumped that God can take people like Michael and me and use them to help make His name great.

Y’all have a wonderful day.

April 7, 2011 at 4:46 pm Leave a comment


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