God Meets Me

It’s another Five Minute Friday.  Seems it’s the only time I can make it over to post something lately, even though I have a million ideas running around in my head.  I’m so grateful for Kate’s encouragement.  5 minutes is enough.  The rules are simple.  Set a timer for 5 minutes of free writing, no edits, no backtracking, just writing.  Stop when the timer dings.  Post it on her page and comment on the person before you…simple?  Yes.  Now WHERE is my timer…

Mother’s day all around me.  People posting sweet things about their mothers.  Commercials begging you to do something special for Mom on this day.  But not for me.  You see the relationship with my Mom and I has always been somewhat rocky.  I don’t have that sweet relationship that the commercials depict…  I could go into details, but I won’t, it’s not necessary, or honoring so I’ll leave it at that.

The relationship with my mother in law when I was first married was wonderful, amazing.   But over the years, they’ve discovered I’m human, yep. I have warts.  Never mind that we all have warts…  Again, there is no reason to go into details, there’s no honor there…I hope I just say enough…without saying too much.

So here’s the good.  God has met me!  God has blessed me with a more wonderful husband that I could have ever asked for or imagined, one that loves me and gives me grace when the warts rear their ugly heads.  God has blessed me with 4 amazing children who I adore and who love me in spite of my warts…so while I mourn the passing of having my own mohter: I rejoice that  I have 2 daughters.  Two daughters that I will meet.  That I will have relationship with as the years grow by.  Two daughters that I will not turn away, that I will not reject, but that I will love and adore and give grace to in the same way they give grace to me.  Human relationship, hurt and pain at times, but forgiveness and grace at times too.  So while the commercials and Facebook posts sometimes sting, I will look to the now.  To the family God has gifted me.  To the future relationship that I hope to have with my girls, and with my future daughter in laws (where ever they may be)…

and I will know that God has met me.

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Grandpa Ivan

Well this post is long overdue, but life these last couple of months has been extremely busy, so busy that it’s almost a blur. This blog has been pretty silent recently, up until a few days ago and now it seems that I can’t shut up.    Please bear with me…

Shane’s grandad Ivan Dennis departed this life for his eternal home November 7th, 2014.  Yes, about 6 weeks ago.

Tabitha photobombs Grandma and Grandpa pciThis picture was taken in July.

I was actually driving to Tennessee for my Jubilee, the day he went to his eternal heavenly home.  He had been told a few years ago that he had either leukemia or lymphoma; he decided not to find out which one, because he wasn’t going to do anything about it. And everyone was o.k. with that.

Isaac and I had gone to the hospital that Monday, everyone else had gone Tuesday.  He hardly acted sick, but he was in I.C.U.  and they let Tabby (8) go…they don’t let youn’un’s in ICU unless…

As Isaac and I left, I leaned over to give him a hug and kissed him on the forehead, he said “you may not want to get to close, I don’t know what I’ve got”  Always thinking about everyone else.  That was Ivan.

So, I was beginning my Jubilee.  It had been a hard start already, with Hannah’s accident 2 days before.  But I was looking forward to spending the evening/overnight and next morning with my Aunt and Uncle in Nashville, as we had planned.

But that trip brought lots of change of plans…

I was about 2 hours from home, Shane called and said they had started morphine. It was just a tiny amount, just to make Grandpa comfortable.  We knew it was the beginning of the end.  But we really thought I’d have time to make my 2 1/2 week visit and return home before he left this life.

We were wrong.

Shane called a few hours later and said

Grandpa’s gone.

He ate a steak dinner for lunch. Sang Jesus Loves Me (one of his favorites, if not his most favorite).  Asked the family to sing hymns, sat back closed his eyes and breathed his last.

I don’t think anyone expected it so soon.

When Shane called, I was having a hard time being sad.  I mean I wish EVERY believer could go home that way.

I thought about flying home for the funeral, but all the driving Shane would have to do to get me just didn’t make sense.  It would have been a minimum of 6 hours plus the driving for the funeral 1 1/2 hours away and the burial in Iowa.  So I mourned in Tennessee and they mourned here.

Until Shane came into my life, I hadn’t had a Grandpa.  Grandma’s yes, but both of my Grandpa’s were gone.  Grandpa S died when my Daddy was little and Grandpa R hadn’t been part of our lives since my Mom was younger.  Both of Shane’s Grandpa’s were special to me, but because of proximity, we spent more time with Grandpa Ivan.

He was a very special man.  He was one of, if not the most loving, patient, tender-hearted men I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing.  (It’s where Shane gets his wonderful qualities).  He loved everyone and was a humble man that went about his life without much fanfare.  He had a sweet, gentle spirit.  Always the gentleman.  He could figure out how to make anything work.  And he always worked smarter, rather than harder.  Every summer, he’d pull out this contraption he had made to carry the large window air conditioner that belonged in the living room for the season.  It took him and one other to use it, but no one’s back was ever strained in the moving of that big air conditioner.

Many years ago, he built a closet for us in the little apartment we had when we first moved to Missouri.  It took him all day, but it was a masterpiece when he was done.

Yes, a closet masterpiece.

He always had time to listen.  To play dominoes, or to get down in the floor with the kids and sit cross legged to play with them.

ivan and isaac 002 When we first moved to Independence, we went to church with the family.  Many days, I’d hear a knock at the door.  It’d be Grandma and Grandpa.  Or we’d go to their house for lunch. Or we’d go over and hang out…sometimes Ivan hung out with the kids

Ivan and kids in the tree 001

Then we moved.  And they’d come out for the day.  Maybe this was one 4th of July, or maybe a birthday.  It was in the our first few years out here because that hammock has been long gone.  A couple years ago they came down for Thanksgiving.  Shane’s dad had brought one of his pistols and Shane got out a couple of our guns and they went out to shoot, Grandpa went with them.  I stayed in the house but Shane says that even after not shooting for many years he could still hit the mark. He would have been about 83 or 84 then!  And probably hadn’t picked up a gun in many years.

ivan in the hammock 001Grandma Nadine and Grandpa Ivan helped me with apples the first couple of years we lived out here because my kiddos were too small to help much, and there were A LOT of apples.  We made lots of applesauce that day.

Then Grandma started forgetting things.  Grandpa was here caregiver.  Almost 24 hours a day 7 days a week.  Loving her tenderly until he could no longer do it.

Grandpa didn’t cook.

So for the past several years, we’d make extra and freeze it. It was their Christmas gift.

A “Meal of the Month Club” we called it.  Really, it was way more than 1 meal a month.  Usually it was delivered to Shane’s mom, and she took it to them.  Every time I’d fix a meal, I’d ask myself.  Is there enough for Grandma and Grandpa?  I loved doing it, and would pray for them many times as I scooped their meal into a container for the freezer.  One time I sent a package of noodles, I got a phone call asking how to cook them.  So from then on, I cooked them so he’d only have to heat them up.

One afternoon about 2 years ago we were visiting Knoxville, we were at Goodwill, Shane and Hannah on one side of the store, and me on the other.  My cell phone rang. It was Grandpa thanking me for the “good food” I sent.  But I had forgotten to label something that I had sent so he described what it looked like and I tried to tell him what it was.  Finally, I am almost yelling the letters to spell B R O C C O L I into the phone (WHAT is it with Broccoli and our relatives????)  It was a turkey, broccoli, and rice casserole.  I look up to see Shane and Hannah trying to stifle laughs and  acting like they had no idea who I was!   So now, just for fun one of us will start… B R O and we’ll all laugh.

Grandpa never had a computer, didn’t want a cordless phone or caller i.d. He did have a cell phone at one time but I’m not sure he used it very much.  He was slow and methodical about everything he did.

He was a precious blessing to all who knew him.

I’m so thankful that Grandpa didn’t suffer.  I am so thankful that I was blessed with such a sweet Grandfather for 20 years of my life.

He is missed greatly! But I know we will reunite with Him someday…

Chip Young’s Legendary Legacy

Yesterday we buried my precious Uncle.

uncle chip painted

It was a bittersweet day fill with lots of laughter and tears.

Over the years I read news articles after news articles, I had seen the livestream of the Nashville Cat series when they interviewed him.  I had seen the NAAM interview,  I knew he had been inducted into the National Thumbpickers Hall of Fame.  I had heard about Elvis kicking a gun through one of Uncle Chip’s guitars and it being on display at the Country Music Hall of Fame, I had seen the gold records hanging in the mudroom (yes, the mudroom) of his antebellum home shortly after he received them.

but it had never occurred to me that Chip Young was LEGENDARY!  To me, he was just Uncle Chip.  He never talked about what he did or who he did it with.  He was a very humble man.

But the truth is, he was FRIENDS with the likes of Chet Atkins, Jerry Reed, Joe South, Larry, Rudy and Steve Gatlin, Billy Swan, Felton Jarvis, and many, many others.  He had close professional ties to the likes of Elvis, Dolly, etc.  Here is a list of SOME of his earthly accomplishments

The service was a wonderful tribute to my Uncle’s life, loves (family, friends and the Lord, not necessarily in that order) and some of his “few” accomplishments in his 50 year career in Nashville.

Honestly, he would probably say his biggest “accomplishment” had nothing to do with his musical talent and everything to do with his love for the Lord, his wife, daughter, grandkids and family and friends.

Larry told the story of the “ching” in the hit “All the Gold in California” that came from 2 wrenches in the toolbox.  And then him and Rudy, and Steve played beautiful harmony with Vince Gill accompanying them, for us.  No, they didn’t sing their hit, but they sang some beautiful gospel.

Near the end of the service, Vince got up and picked up a guitar, walked to the mic and started telling a story.

It goes something like this:

I was recording an album at a small studio a few years ago and the owner had many guitars hanging on the wall.  He told me I could play any of them I’d like and I was drawn to this one.  I just knew it was special.  It had the magic, it had the mojo…

“I found out it had been Chips”.  Chip had played it back in the 60’s and 70’s

(My sidenote: which meant it had THE mojo!  Elvis, Billy Swan’s “I Can Help” probably Dolly’s “Jolene”)

For months, every time VInce went into the studio, he picked up Chip’s guitar.

Several years later, Amy (Grant, Vince’s wife) had a Christmas gift wrapped in a blanket for me.

I put my hands on it, and before I unwrapped it, I said, that’s Chip’s guitar.

and it was…

He said Megan had asked him to play and he proceeded to play and sing a beautiful song, and he did it “Chip style”  with his thumb.

(Hope I got that close enough to right Vince).

When he started playing, I melted.

vince gill playing uncle chips guitar

He sung beautifully, as I watched him thumb pick, I could imagine Uncle Chip’s fingers (and thumb) playing.  All I could think was “he’s playing Uncle Chip’s guitar.”  I had probably seen that guitar many times as a child and never realized the significance of it.

This is what he sang

As we were walking out, I told dad, “I sure would like to hold that guitar”

So after everyone had walked out, Daddy said, “you want to go talk to Vince”

YES!

I marched right up to Vince Gill and thanked him for playing a beautiful song and then I asked to see “my Uncle’s” guitar.

He was SO gracious to a grief stricken neice

he got the guitar out of the case.

And  I asked to hold it.

anticipating uncle chips guitar

And I did.

holding the guitar

And Isaac did. And I lost the picture 😦

visiting with vince

And we visited about my Uncle while we held his guitar.

And it was a sweet time.

And for the record, I don’t know many people that would tell Grammy award winner,

VINCE GILL,

“You played a nice song, but can I see my Uncle’s guitar?”

If you happen to read this Vince, please forgive me.

I hope I wasn’t too rude to seem disinterested in meeting you.

It REALLY was nice to meet you.

But my Uncle has always and will always hold a VERY special place in my heart (You’ll read about that in another post).

I THANK YOU from the VERY BOTTOM of my heart for the precious gift of letting me hold

my Uncle’s guitar.

A Time to be Disappointed

Okay folks time to be real.  I’m having a hard time today.  I started writing this post from the perspective of not being thankful. but that ‘s not it.  I AM thankful!  There are many things to be thankful and I AM thankful for many things. Too many to recount, but here are a few.  I’m thankful for my Savior who loves me even when I am mucked over with nastiness, I’m thankful for my family, I’m thankful for my sweet daughters wonderful doctors report, and that she wasn’t more severely injured in the accident she was in a few weeks ago.  For the new to us car, for my Uncle’s continually improving health after the by-pass surgery that was the “only option” for him because of his other many health problems.  I’m thankful for the wonderful memories that were made this year!  I’m thankful for the godly young men and ladies my children are becoming.  I’m VERY thankful for 20 years with my darling Shane…

pilgrim-children

I’m not talking about those things, and I don’t even know if I can explain it, but I have to try because I WANT to get out of this funk I’m in…before everyone else gets up.

Maybe it’s more disappointment than being ungrateful…

disappointed at circumstances.

Our home will only boast of 3 extras at our dinner table today.  Usually, our house if FULL.  11 even feels a little empty.  And that’s about the minimum we’ve ever had at our place for Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is one of those times of years where we LOVE a full house!

The excitement builds. Everyone is involved.  Sweet potato casserole is assembled, pies are baked, cranberry sauce is made.  A turkey is covered with bacon and smoked overnight. Memories are made. (and we did those things this year).

The next morning, we anxiously await the arrival of cars in our driveway.

Today, it will be different.

One car will arrive in our driveway. Shane’s Aunt and Uncle, one other guest will be at our table.

Don’t get me wrong, for those 3 we are grateful.

But the full house will be missed.

There seems to be a good reason.

Grandma is NOT able to travel.  She’s declining rapidly since Grandpa left this world for his eternal home a few weeks ago.

We’ll get together tomorrow.

What’s different? Today?  Tomorrow?

Except that tomorrow it will be different.

It won’t be Thanksgiving.

It won’t be the day where we’ve gathered together for I don’t know how many years, just like most families all over the country.

It will be the day after the day that everyone gathers together to gather around turkey and fixins.

I’m reading on Facebook about people traveling hours to be with family today…yet we live ONE hour away and there will be no gathering.  Hmmmmm…maybe that’s it!  It’s the one hour thing that is the kicker to me.  It’s not like we’re miles and miles apart.  We don’t have to cross state lines, heck, we only have to cross one county line.

We’re ALL disappointed! In fact yesterdays preparations did NOT go well.

I’m trying to put on my brave face, but honestly, I’m not doing very well. And neither is anyone else.

I’m not used to this.

Even in my own whacked out family growing up, we always came together (mostly) genuinely happy to see each other. We gathered at Grandma’s on Thanksgiving, (Dad’s meal was at noon and Grandma’s was at 5ish-talk about turkey overload…), and my Aunt and Uncles at Christmas (usually Christmas Eve with them and Christmas day with Dad).

There wouldn’t be that many of us at Grandma’s, 8 if I’m counting everyone; but we were all always there.

We’d put our best faces forward.  Put up with the grumpy Uncle (on my mother’s side).

There would be no snarky comments.  No nasty put downs.  No stress or tension that I could feel.

Those things would be put aside for the day.

There would be pleasant conversation…well, except for the grumpy Uncle, but even he could find a smile that day.

Or maybe everyone was just good at pretending. But forgive me if I continue in my own little fantasy land.

We enjoyed.  We laughed.  We were family.

Same with my Daddy’s family.  Love covers a multitude of sins and when we’re together, we put aside our differences.  We enjoy! We love.  And we genuinely have a wonderful time together…at least I always did/do

side note:  Malachi made the pecan pie with honey this year, a new recipe, and I’m not sure it turned out right.

 

***  Malachi’s pecan pie was different but very good.  We’ve had a great day.  Uncle Ralph had a GREAT praise to share.  And the kids have had a BLAST playing games, cards, throwing the football, jumping on the trampoline

 

Growing up in Knoxville 31 Days {Day 6}

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I am a southern gal through and through.  I was transplanted to the Midwest by my wonderful, loving husband nearly 18 years ago…but try as I might, it’s not where my heart is.  There might be beautiful sunrises.

sunrise

But, it’s  just not the same.  See all that FLAT?  Knoxville is not like that.  It sits at the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.  The Great Smoky Mountain National Park is in it’s back yard.   I miss my mountains.  (Maybe that’s why I LOVE Colorado so much). I miss the curvy roads.  I miss hearing “Y’all” and “fixin to”  and just good ole Southern hospitality.

We moved to Knoxville when I was in 2nd grade.  My parents are still there.   Back then, you not only knew your neighbors, your neighbors became your friends.  In fact, I know what the inside of every house within a 10 house distance on the street where I live looks like.  And what many of the other houses in the subdivision look like too…even 3 or 4 streets over.  Because that’s the way it was, way back then…

Even looking on google maps today, as I’m writing this,  I’m thinking,”that was______’s house”  Funny how time seems to stand still in moments like this.

We lived in Hidden Hills.  The neighborhood was under construction but as houses were built, we got neighbors  As we go to know them, we got friends.  We’d take walks around the block together, taking our buckets to pick wild blackberries in the patches that grew where houses were later built.  As the years passed, the neighborhood grew. I can’t remember how, but I know it did.

In the summer, we’d leave in the morning, come home when we were hungry for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and disappear again.  No one ever worried back then about where we were.  We all took care of each other.

Buzz’s dad had built him a huge treehouse.  And yes, it really was huge! 3 stories tall, with a fire pole, and ropes to climb.  It took up most of their back yard.

A bunch of us got together in the Allens back yard and built a much smaller triangular shaped 3 story treehouse a few years later.  One night, all the neighborhood kids even had a slumber party…it was supposed to be boys on one floor, girls on another, but I think we all ended up jamming in together.    And there was the fort that we built, using leftover construction supplies in the Gordon’s back yard.  It resembled a little house. I’m sure by now, they are just memories in the heads of those that grew up in the neighborhood in the 70’s.  But what memories they are!  What fun we had!

I busted my head open while tightrope walking on a fallen tree in someone’s back yard. (Ok, that wasn’t fun). No one back then gave a thought to suing people back then.  Parents chalked things like that up to dumb kid stuff and moved on with their lives.

Charlie gave me his bunny when he got tired of it…I named her Fluffy.

Patricia’s mom laid in her driveway every summer, tanning herself.  She wasn’t that old, but after spending summer after summer spraying on the Coppertone, she sure looked it…that was in the days before anyone knew of skin cancer. We’d make palates in her living room when I’d spend the night.

Mom and Sharon would highlight each others hair with foil wraps in each others kitchen…yes even way back then highlights made the rounds.

There were neighborhood volleyball games one summer…but by the next summer that family had moved away, so no more volleyball games.

Kickball in the circle (that was before we knew kickball was so evil).

Everyone scattering when the street light came on…

Slumber parties in the basement.  Oh what fun…mattresses lined up from one end to the other and all the neighborhood girls, in our cute 70’s style p.j’s.  (hmmm….WHERE did all those mattresses come from??)

Doing “The Hustle”  in the basement and listening to WNOX  when I wasn’t listening to my records, like STYX, Peter Frampton, and the Beegees in my bedroom.

Playing Cowboys and Indians in the back yard, with the cousins when they came to visit.  Then the adults taking Uncle Roger to the doctor to get his wrist set because he thought he could still ride a skateboard.

Roller skating in the Wright’s basement.  Yes, I had metal clip on skates and a skate key.  Oh, how much time did I spend at the Wright’s house.  Snapping green beans, watching Georgia (Mrs. Wright) quilt in the living room.  They became my second family.  In later years, walking around the block with Anita, so we could sneak some smokes (yes, that was another life).  Remember those Raleigh’s I mentioned the other day?  How do you think I KNEW they were NASTY?

Crushes on all the cute neighborhood boys…and they were all cute.

In some ways the neighborhood has changed. (I sure have, gave up those ciggies and the neighborhood crushes many, many years ago)  The dogwood tree that “Andy” fell out of and broke his arm in, is gone.   At some point, someone put some solar panels on the roof of our od house, so all the trees in the front yard are gone.  The other trees in the neighborhood sure have grown, beneath those trees, the houses look the same as in my memories.

Those memories remain, even though most of the families have moved on.

What kind of kid memories do you have?  Please share your favorite with me below!

Have a great Monday y’all!

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Grandma’s Couch 31 Days {Day 2}

This is a picture of “Grandma’s Couch” where it used to sit in my living room.

grandma's couch

I loved Grandma’s couch.The fabric was beautiful. And it was pretty comfortable to sit on too.  Especially for those of us that are height challenged. It had super short legs, so it worked well for those of us whose legs were short too.  It belonged to my maternal Grandma for many years before she passed from this world a little over 10 years ago.  Before that, it belonged to someone else we knew.  I loved that couch for many years before it became mine. That was the one thing I asked for when she was in hospice, dying from the effects of too many years of smoking Raleigh cigarettes.  Remember them?  Didn’t think so.

Those things were NASTY with a capital N!

Back to more pleasant things, like Grandma’s Couch.

There are many great memories of Grandma’s Couch.

If I imagine hard enough I can still see her sitting on the far left cushion cheering on “her” Atlanta Braves.  Or reading one of her novels that she picked up second-hand at McKay in Knoxville. Or pulling herself up from the cushion to go check on one of the many wonderful things that might be cooking in the kitchen.  Maybe some Rigatone with meat sauce, and when I say meat, I mean meat.  Italian sausage, chicken, ground beef with thick, red sauce…YUM!  Or some Chicken Noodle Soup with chunks of carrots and celery.  Maybe some German dishes like Periogi or some Polish dishes like Keilbasa and Glace or my favorite, Thanksgiving dinner with homemade pies…now I’m getting hungry!  I can smell it cookin now!

I snuggled children, read stories, crocheted afghans, nursed sick kiddos, snuggled up with good books and generally enjoyed that old couch for many years…but as much as I loved “Grandma’s couch” it just needed too much work to restore to its former glory.  While it had “GREAT bones”, no one on Craigslist wanted it either…so I cut the fabric off, saved the buttons and burned the frame.

This is what I did with some of the fabric.

grandma's couch picture1grandma's couch picture2

These were homemade Christmas gifts for the children last year (and one for me).  Even though Malachi was little when she left this life, and Tabitha never met Grandma, they still loved Grandma’s couch.

It has a matching chair that still sits in our living room.  It’s dirty and is starting to look pretty ratty.  But I just can’t bear to part with it. It’s Isaac’s favorite place to sit, so my guess is Isaac will ask for it and love it until his wife “makes” it go.  It’s a little piece of Grandma left here for us to remember her by.  Maybe someday I’ll take some of that left over fabric from the couch and spruce it up some…for now it remains as it is.

Here’s a picture of me with my brother and Grandma taken in 1972 in Chattanooga, TN.  That’s the Tennessee River in the background.

grandma couch 001

Have a wonderfully blessed day y’all!

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31 Days of Friends and Family

I’ve committed to posting every day in the month of October…

justathought

Yeah, I think I’m crazy; but I have decided to link up with the writing challenge from  the Nester and attempt to make a post here every day in October.  Truth be told, I’ll probably miss a few days here and there…but it is a GOAL to reach for, right?  Not a hard and fast set in stone thing.  Nothing terrible, horrible, awful, atrocious, etc. is going to happen if I don’t reach that goal, right?

Right.

Some days you may find nothing more than a cute picture like this

isaac storytelling

With some words below it describing what’s happening.

In this case, Isaac has several of the little’s from church enraptured with his storytelling abilities.  I have NO idea what story he was telling, but it’s certainly one that must be interesting; not a creature is stirring…

Or, it might be a post like this one about my sweet cousin’s Granny.  (Which is why I decided to chose the topic of Family and Friends).

Or, even yet, it might be a funny story that happened that day, or from the recesses of my mind somewhere in the past.

It could be a story about our days of chasing cows, pigs or chickens; or something funny that my crazy Tabby girl said or did. Or about the way my strong, silent type Malachi runs the vacuum when he hates it as much as I do, or when he takes the cordless drill and some screws and fixes our bottom step on the deck or how he braves the weather (hot or cold) every day to go care for whatever critters we happen to have, be it cows, pigs or kittens.  Or how my darling 18 year old Hannah made a cute little kitten picture on her tablet for her FB with all sorts of little captions while I sat before my dino desktop almost having an anxiety attack over how to make a  button for this series.   (This series is sure to get me out of my comfort zone in many ways).

 hannah cat pic

Will you join me for 31 days in October?  You can find the information here on the Nesters blog or for some one word prompts and a challenge to limit the daily post to 5 minutes, you can check out Kate’s link here.

And the adventure begins in 4 days!

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Below are links to each 31 Days post.  You may also want to click the  “31 Days of Family and Friends” category in the sidebar if you don’t mind reading backwards. 🙂

Day 1  –Who is my Family?