A Saturday Tale

Standard

My Saturday was eventful to say the least. It was also a great reminder of what’s important in life. It was a day of hanging out with some of the people I love the most. A football celebration, followed by a huge “Thank you Lord” moment.

Saturday morning started with a Birthday brunch for one of the best friends a girl could ask for. A group of us gathered at another friend’s home and hosted a brunch for the birthday girl. It was a mix of people. Some of us have been friends for a little over 17 years. Some are newer friends, but those friendships are still just as valued. We ate. We talked. We reminisced and there was plenty of laughter. When you have been friends that long, there are plenty of stories that will make you laugh good, deep belly laughs.

When I looked at the birthday girl and some of the other ladies in the room, I was reminded how blessed I am to have such and incredible tribe. These are women with whom we have ridded the crazy roller coaster of life together. These are women who have laughed, cried and prayed together. These are women who truly want to see each other succeed. There is no competition or oneupmanship in this group. These are also the women who are not afraid to speak truth in love when needed. They are there when you fall and ready to help you get back up, brush you off and take off again. These are the type of women I pray all of you have in your lives. These are the women we need in our lives.

I came home from this beautiful celebration to watch my favorite football game of the season. Whether you have known me since childhood, or just a short time, most of you know I am a die hard Alabama fan. Yesterday was Iron Bowl Saturday, where we take on the Auburn Tigers. While I relished and celebrated our big cross state rivalry win, that wasn’t my favorite part of watching the game.

My boys are pee wee football players and have inherited mommy’s love of football. Watching them watch the game, especially my youngest, was so much fun. I love how they were trying to coach the players and telling them what to do. I have no idea where they learned that… Every time Bama scored a touchdown my boys were jumping up and down, high fiving each other and me. The looks on their faces were priceless.

They showed me their “victory dances” at every TD. I also watched their precious hearts as one of the Bama boys targeted an Auburn player and that player went down. They kept cheering him to get up and then clapped when the Auburn player was finally able to walk off the field. My boys are uber competitive, but they also have huge hearts.

Towards the end of the game my husband and mother left to run over to her place, so my husband could fix something for her. On the way home, they were involved in a hit and run. A guy ran a light, pulling in front of my husband, causing my husband to t-bone the other car. The guy got out of his car and talked with my husband. When he admitted that he didn’t have insurance, my husband called Metro Police. At this point, the other guy got in his car and left. Thankfully, my husband and mother walked away and the van is drivable, although a little dinged up. I know this could have been so much worse, but grateful it wasn’t.

Both my husband and mother spend a lot of their time on the roads for work. Honestly, one my biggest fears is having a state trooper or local officer knock on my door and tell me one of them was in an accident and didn’t make it. I know this sounds extreme and overly dramatic, but the level of carelessness on the roads these days has reached a level of ridiculousness. When my husband called last night, my heart sank. While gratefully, it wasn’t the phone call I feared the most, it was a reminder of what “could” be. I was thrilled to have them both walk back through our front door last night. My husband may not have overly appreciated the extra long hug from me, but I was relieved to know I was going to crawl into bed last night and have him by my side.

I share all of this because yesterday was a truly of day of reminders. I was reminded how blessed I am to have an incredible group of friends who are my tribe. They are women I pray I never take for granted. Even in the celebration of a football victory celebration, I saw the compassion and tenderness of my sons. I also hope and pray they will eventually look back on Saturday football games, both the ones they play and the ones we watch together and remember the feeling of togetherness and the fun times in these games. I am grateful my husband and mother walked away from the accident last night. I’m grateful for insurance who will cover the cost of repairing my van and grateful I’m not standing by their beds in ICU or planning funerals. I’m grateful for my family. I’m grateful last night ended in hugs and “I’ll see you tomorrow.” I’m grateful I was able to sit side by side with my husband in church this morning.

Y’all, look around you. Look at your tribe and your family. If you have them, thank the Lord for them. There are times when these people may drive you nuts, but these are your people. The Lord entrusted them to you. In the crazy roller coaster of life, these are the people who will ride it with you and not jump off. Hug your people a little tighter. Let them know you love them and appreciate them.

Advertisements

I am 1 in 4

Standard

Statistics. There’s nothing overly fun about being a statistic. With miscarriage and infertility, it’s not really something you strive to be. It’s not a club anyone wants to join. Yet, here I am. Too many other friends are members of this painful club as well. Every October I am open about the journey my husband and I walked to have our children. Too many times women are silenced and made to feel their losses weren’t real or important. I am here to tell you that you are not alone. When you have a miscarriage, it IS a loss.

Growing up I always wanted to be a part of a large family. The older I got I prayed to have a girl, followed by 2 boys and then another girl. When my husband and I were first married we talked about having 2-3 children. I prayed for twins in order for us to have the larger family.  He was aware of what I prayed. It took a long while to get pregnant. When I finally saw the first positive on a pregnancy test in Dec of 05, my joy was short lived. Within a week of finding out we were expecting, our precious child was gone. The next miscarriage came at the end of April of 06, just a week shy of Mothers Day. It would take well over a year before I became pregnant again, only to lose baby #3 in August of 07.

After 3 miscarriages and it taking so long to get pregnant in between, my OB decided to run an extensive blood panel in attempt to identify the issue. After the panel was run, I was sent to a specialist to review the results. My husband and I sat in a tiny little room as the specialist looked at us and told us I was a Type 1 carrier for 2 types of blood clotting disorders as well as a carrier of MTHFR. In short I could continue to get pregnant, but chances were I would never carry a child to term. I remember standing in the stairwell of this building, overlooking downtown Nashville and sobbing. My husband had his arms around me, but nothing could bring peace to what appeared to be the death of the dream I had of being a mother. My dreams of pregnancy, cravings, picking out nursery furniture, baby clothes and hearing “mama” were gone. All I wanted was to be pregnant and my body wasn’t doing what it was created to do.

My husband had talked about adopting. I saw it as an option, but at the time my heart just wasn’t there. In the spring of 08 he broached the subject with me again and I was open to at least talking about it. He was all in. In his mind, the Lord could and would grow our family how He saw fit. All the while my husband was praying the prayers of Sarah, Rachel and Elizabeth. He had the faith the Lord would bless us with a child. Honestly, I felt like the Lord was angry with me and I was being punished for something. My walk with the Lord had been rocky at best since the last miscarriage. My faith was almost none existent at this point. It took a long while to get back to a decent place with my walk with the Lord.

Fast forward to early fall of 08. There was another positive pregnancy test. I distinctly remember telling my husband “Give it a few days and it will all be over.” My loving husband continued to pray. There were several trips to my OB. I was placed on a prenatal vitamin, progesterone, a high level of folic acid (something my body refused to produce or absorb) and a low dose of aspirin to reduce the chance of blood clots. We had multiple scares. I was placed on modified bed rest. I was only allowed to go to work because I was a school based therapist and I could sit most of the day. I had more ultrasounds than most women would have in 6 or 7 pregnancies. It took until December when we had the gender reveal ultrasound before I could get excited about being pregnant.

When the tech told me we were having a little girl, I cried tears of joy. I couldn’t believe I was staring at MY baby on the screen. Her heartbeat was strong and one of the most beautiful sounds I think I had heard up to the moment in my life. When the tech left, my husband prayed over me and our precious little girl. Two days after Mother’s Day of 09 I held my beautiful, healthy, baby girl for the first time.

Based on all we had walked leading up to her birth, all the doctors’ reports, I was positive she would be an only child. Because honestly, there was no medical reason for her to be here. She was truly a miracle baby. I became pregnant again. There were also issues early on in my pregnancy and I was put back on modified bed rest. At this point, even before we knew if I was carrying a boy or a girl, my husband and I decided this would be our last child. Pregnancy was too hard and it was emotionally exhausting. When we found out we were having a boy, we were thrilled. We were going be a family of 4. This was way more than we expected back in 07.

At this point my husband and I were on the same page. We felt a peace about being done having children because of all we had walked. Our little boy came after we had experienced the Flood of 2010 and a summer that broke long standing heat records. When I looked at the picture of the 4 of us, I was honestly content. The Lord answered major prayers and had blessed us with 2 healthy children.

Little did we know the Lord would give us one more blessing. My husband and I were not trying to get pregnant. In fact, we were trying to be careful. Given we found out we were expecting again so soon after we brought our new son home, we were in shock. While a part of me was thrilled, I knew what I had walked with our other 2 children and wasn’t sure I wanted to or could walk it again. The first ultrasound with our third brought another heartache. When we looked at the screen there were 2 babies. I was pregnant with twins! I was ecstatic. The tech would then look at me and said “Baby B has no cardiac movement.” Her tone was harsh and I was again crushed. The tears started and stayed for most of the rest of the day. Based on what the radiologist saw, we were told I was carrying identical twins. We lost baby B due to a chromosomal abnormality.

I can’t tell you the anxiety that came with the rest of that pregnancy. I had similar issues to my other pregnancies, but now there was uncertainty about the health of our baby. I carried my anxiety in private. I never voiced anything to my OB or my husband. Our child was a planned c-section because my daughter had been an emergency c-section and our older son had also been born vie c-section. As soon as my OB pulled out our son I was begging for an Apgar score. I needed to know if he was Okay. Thankfully, his scores were 9 and 9. Even though we had been told he was healthy, I still carried concerns of unknown issues until he actually started school.

Our journey to parenthood was anything, but easy. All 3 of our children are walking , talking miracles. I still mourn the loss of our other 4 children. I often wonder what they would have looked like. What would their personalities have been? What would their interests have been? I try to imagine myself as a mother of 7. Miscarriages and infertility issues caused struggles in my marriage and my faith. I can’t say I handled it with grace and dignity. There were many nights where I cried myself to sleep. I stopped going to church on Mothers Day and Fathers Day because it was just too hard. I would send gifts to baby showers, but wouldn’t attend.

Please know, as long as you are not causing harm to yourself, there is no right or wrong way to grieve your loss. Again, miscarriages are real losses to be grieved. We all handle this type of loss in different ways. One way for me to find closure and peace with the loss of my children was to name them. While I only know for certain the sex of 1 of my 4, I feel in my heart that I miscarried 1 girl and 3 boys. I had several friends who reminded me that even though my children weren’t in my arms, I was still a mother. You are still a mother!

Please don’t walk this path alone. Reach out to your inner circle. Find a group of women who have also walked this path. I was blessed with 2 incredible friends who were there through all of the losses, as well as a church choir who surrounded me with prayer. I was also blessed to find an online group of women who had losses around the same time I did. We met in a forum and eventually moved our group over to a private FB group. Most of us went on to have children. I am still friends with these women today and have had the privilege of meeting a few of them. When my husband and I were talking about adoption I joined an adoption group. Even though we never adopted, these ladies kept me in the group and are just as much a part of my story as the miscarriage/ loss group.

If you need an ear of someone who has been there, please feel free to reach out to me. I will be more than happy to listen and to pray. You are NOT alone!

 

Why Vulnerability?

Standard

“You can’t get to courage without rumbling through vulnerability.”

“Own our story can be hard, but not nearly as difficult spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky, but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy- the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”

Both quotes are by Brene Brown.

Y’all, it seems the word vulnerability has been a reoccurring theme in life as of late. So many conversations from people in different areas of my life are bringing up this word. I’m a part of a wonderful church staff. Earlier this week we had small group conversations around this word. Honestly, at the moment, it’s probably one of my least favorite words. It’s a word that means going below the surface. It’s a word that requires allowing others to see past the mask and the walls. It’s allowing others to see us at our weakest. Vulnerability means letting people into the darkest recesses we swore only the Lord would ever see. It means letting people you trust speak into those places. It means being seen on a level we aren’t really sure we want to be seen.

Vulnerability requires a great deal of trust. When you are not a trusting person, that makes it ten times harder. Vulnerability means allowing people to hear your story in its entirety. It means acknowledging you aren’t as perfect as you like to pretend you are. It’s laying your soul bare and knowing the person sitting in front of you can either honor your trust or completely betray you.

Life happens and throws us curve-balls. Sometimes life hands us situations where shame and guilt come into play. Many of us have stories we wish we didn’t have. Many of us have walked things we wouldn’t wish on our worst enemies. They are things we wish we could permanently block from our minds. The only way to move forward and away from our past is to take the leap of faith into vulnerability. It is probably one of the hardest things we can do.

The question then is, who can we trust? I’ll be honest, I’m grateful for a small group women in my life. Two are friends I’ve had for roughly 17 years. We’ve walked single-hood to engagement, weddings, marriage, miscarriages, children and everything in between. There is another friend with whom I work and I can’t begin to tell you how many raw conversations and tears have fallen in her office. I also have two more seasoned ladies whom I love and adore. They are two of my biggest prayer warriors. You see, I know I am blessed to have these women in my life. They have given me a safe place to land and a place to let down my guard. The Lord knew I’m not a trusting person and He graciously placed these 5 women in my life.

Do you have people like this in your life? Do you have at least one person like this in your life? If not, I urge you to pray and ask the Lord to lead you to that person. Even if you don’t have trauma in your past, we all need at least one person with whom we can be 100% ourselves. We need at least one person with whom the mask can come off and the walls can come down. If you do have trauma in your past, then these are the people who can walk by your side on the hard days. These are the people who will pray you through those days and help you get to the other side.

Vulnerability may also be taking the step of walking into a therapist office. Y’all therapy is hard. It can be extremely humbling, but I think most people need to sit in a therapist office at least once or twice in life. Sometimes it may be for a check up and process some of the smaller things in life. Other times there are a larger issues that need to be addressed. It may be getting to the root of why you struggle with vulnerability.

Vulnerability may be allowing others to step and do something for you. I get the majority of us don’t need to go that far, but to allow someone to bring you a meal or take your children for a few hours can be huge, especially when you are hurting. Vulnerability is really allowing those you trust the most to step in when and where you need it the most. It may make you feel weak, but allowing others to love on you will put you closer to where you need to be.

We may not realize it, but vulnerability can affect all areas of our lives. If we stay shut off from the world and walk through it with only shallow relationships, we miss out on the beauty of the world and the richness of those around us. Vulnerability in the right places allows us to live our lives to the fullest. It means we’re allowing the Lord into those places and allowing Him to place others to be His hands and feet in our lives.

 

 

 

 

Hidden Value

Standard

Sometimes when driving down the road the most random thoughts enter my brain. Then I sit and probably way over think whatever it is that has popped up in my head. This is one of those posts.

My husband and I closed on our house a little over 3 years and really aren’t  looking to go anywhere else anytime soon. We realize at some point we will probably outgrow our little house and need to give our kids some breathing room, especially the boys, as they grow into teenagers. That being said, it’s still fun to look at random postings as they pop up on social media or to look up properties as we see them. While on a run I passed a house I have passed more times than I can count. The front of the property is gorgeous. There is a gate, so you can’t walk up and look around. From the road I can see the house, a greenhouse and a pond. There is a “For Sale” sign in front of it. I knew it would be listed for way beyond what my husband and I could ever afford, but still wanted to know the listing price.

After watching countless seasons of “House Hunters” and “Property Brothers” I thought I had a good guess as to what the house would be worth. Y’all, I was so far off it wasn’t even funny. My estimate was roughly half a million. When I went into Zillow the house was listed at $1.5 Million! I about fell out of my chair. While I knew the house had value, I could only see it’s partial potential from my view on the road. I couldn’t see anything else the home had to offer. I couldn’t see the square footage of the house. I couldn’t see all of the acreage that comes with the house, nor could I see the Olympic size pool behind the house.

As I was driving and thinking about this house, I started to think about people in general. How many people do we write off as not having much to offer? How many times do we look at another person and know they have some skills, but fail to look farther than we can see and fail to see their full potential? I wonder how many people make it to the end of their lives without ever reaching their full potential because not one person in their lives took the time see what it was or to give them a chance?

When I think about my own kids I see their value, but wonder what else they have to offer? What are their talents and skill sets that have yet to be discovered? At the end of May they participated in a cheer/ football clinic. The son I thought would do ok, ended up shocking me. The child I thought would excel, was the one who did ok. In my own mind, I saw potential in a completely different area for my one son and never imagined that he could do what I saw him do on the field that week. I am now really looking forward to football this fall to watch him grow and develop.

As a parent I don’t need to write off a certain activity because I don’t think my child can excel. I need to be open to letting my kids explore multiple activities and see where their hearts, talents and skill sets take them. I don’t want my kids to miss out because I or another adult in their lives failed to pay attention and miss their full potential in whatever the activity may be.

I also don’t want to be the person to write off someone else because I can’t see them for who they truly are and only look at them on a surface level. In a society where we tend to only see what a person puts on social media, it’s easy to pass judgement on what we think a person may or may not have to offer. How many people have surprised others by what they’ve done, not because they weren’t capable of doing whatever, but we didn’t see them as someone who could do it?

The flip side of this coin is, how often do we hide our own worth? We know what we are capable of, but are content, or too scared to come out of our bubbles? It is often times easier to sit back and let the world go by than to let others in to see our true worth. This has been a struggle for me over the past year. I know I am capable of doing so much more than I am, but have let the fear of being seen prevent me from taking any steps. Even in times when we’ve been given a shot at doing something, how many times do we second guess every little thing? I am a huge over-thinker and a recovering people pleaser (blog post on this coming soon). Even though I desire to do more, as long as those above me are happy with what I am doing, it’s easy to coast.

Remember: When a person shows even a little potential, take the time to see what else may be below the surface. I think most people would shock us if given the opportunity. Also, don’t be afraid to let others see your real worth.

Love Your People Well

Standard

Y’all it has been a long hard road since last June. That week started out with me heading to MI to celebrate my niece graduating from high school and her acceptance to college. The weekend ended with my MIL being diagnosed with cancer. Talk about highs to lows in a matter of days. This would only be the beginning of health issues and death. I shared in my last blog post about a season of death. Well, that season has been extended by the death of an adult child of a dear friend.

When things like this happen, especially with as hard as this season has hit, it causes you take a step back and take stock of life. It causes you to really evaluate who you are, where you and the relationships with the people around you. Y’all please love your people well. I have been reminded of my former pastor’s statement “There is nothing so certain as death and nothing so uncertain as the time.” You never know when the Lord is going to call you or someone you love home. Again, love your people well.

Life can get crazy busy. I am looking at the calendar for the month of May. It is crazy busy for us. We celebrate the birthdays of two of our children. There is Mothers Day and the anniversary of our engagement. Add to that all of the end year stuff/ activities for church and school and by the end I am so ready for a vacation. What if? What if you gave yourself the permission to say “No” to certain things? What if you took a step back to make sure you had time to really be with your spouse,children and friends?

I’ll be honest, I am a people pleaser in recovery. (This is so difficult for me to say and a whole blog post for down the road). I don’t like people to be upset or angry with me, so I struggle to say that tiny two letter word “No.” As I look back at all that has transpired since last June, will I really be upset when my time comes that I said “No” to others and “Yes” to my family? Will I regret staying busy over choosing to grab lunch with a friend or spending time with my husband and children? Do I want my kids to say “Mommy loved us, but she was so busy with other things that she wasn’t there for us?

The end of the school year is almost here. Summer is knocking on our door. I’ll be honest, I’m saying “No” to a lot this summer. My kids will attend VBS at our church. We will go to MI and visit my sister and that side of my family. My youngest will go to preschool day camp. Other than that, we are going to enjoy a slower summer. My husband and I will still have to work, but we are going to take time to breathe this summer. My kids will be a top priority. We will enjoy some much needed family time. I also plan on getting together with my girlfriends. Time for dinners and play-dates will be made. There will also be plenty of what my kids call “home days.” I will say “Yes” to the ice cream truck. I will say “Yes” to turning on the sprinkler for my kids and their friends. I will say “Yes” to trips to the park, the art museum and the library.

I won’t do any of this perfectly, but I will make more of an effort than I have in the past. I have several friends and family members who are hurting because of this season of death. I pray the Lord will use me to be His hands and feet and love on them. I pray that I can be the ear or the shoulder they need in this time. I pray that I can be the one who just sits there because there are no words to be spoken. Sometimes I think when people we love are hurting that is what they need the most. They just need us to sit there. They don’t need our words, even though they may be well intentioned. Sometimes the silence is more healing than the noise. They need to know they are loved. With the friend who said her final goodbyes to her son last week, all I could tell her was that she and her family are loved.

Side note on dealing with grieving loved ones and friends:
1) Tell them they are loved.
2) Let them know you are OK with the tears.
3) Let them know they have permissions to have hard days.
4) Let them know it’s OK to laugh and smile on the good days.
5) Call or text them and let them know you are praying for them.
6) Call or text and ask them to join you for coffee, lunch, or a movie.
7) Don’t give them trite responses to their grief.
8) Remind them as long as what they are doing is not causing self-harm there is no wrong or right way to grieve.
9) Remind them there is NO timeline on their grief.
10) Remind them grief is not a straight line and the emotions will cycle.

If you are in a season of grief or things are smooth sailing, love your people well and reach out and connect to those you love most.

Death, Grief and Legacy

Standard

It’s been a season of loss. There have been tears shed as well as laughter over shared memories of the past. I tend to keep my emotions to close to me and try to only release them when I am alone or with my husband. Given all that’s transpired, I haven’t done a great job at concealing anything. A part of me knows that showing emotion and not attempting to be stoic around others isn’t the worst thing in the world.

Almost two weeks ago, on a Wednesday night, I completely fell apart. Let me back up just a little. Back in November, we lost my MIL to cancer. My husband and children still struggle with her loss, especially my daughter. At the end of January, I lost a sweet friend to brain cancer. Just shy of 2 weeks after that I walked into my office and learned a friend from church lost her husband. I had only met the husband a couple of times, but hurt for her and her children. Then I lost my beloved college president and my high school choral director within a week of each other. It was on that Wednesday that I learned about my choral director.

I thought I was doing ok. I made it through work. Went home and came back to church, even though I seriously contemplated staying home. I attended my ladies Bible study that night and headed to choir. I was holding back the emotion pretty well, until we started singing. You see I love music and it speaks to the very depths of my soul. There are times when the Lord uses the music more than the sermon to speak to me. (My senior pastor is really a great preacher and I love his solid, exegetical preaching). We rehearsed the first song and I was great. A couple lines into the second song, I was attempting to blink back the tears. By the end of that song, I couldn’t read the music in my hands. Since I was sitting on the back row, I couldn’t just slide out. What did I do? I pulled my hair down over my glasses and didn’t make eye contact with anyone. As soon as rehearsal was over and our worship pastor prayed, I bolted.

I was hoping to make it back to the safety of my van before anyone realized that I was crying. That didn’t happen. I reached the back door at the same time as a friend. She looked at me and hugged me, which only made the tears flow harder. In between the tears I shared what had happened. She hugged me tighter, told me she would be praying for me and we walked to the parking lot together. Later, I would receive a text message and a FB message from a couple other ladies who saw the tears. I won’t lie, I was angry with myself and frustrated that these 3 ladies saw it. On the other hand, it was a great reminder that I go to an amazing church and have been blessed with some incredible friends. Church “should” be the one place we can fall apart. Right? I feel like being on staff I should be able to hide the bad and pretend that all is well, even when it isn’t. If someone on church staff is falling apart, then it must mean that we struggle with our faith and in life, so wouldn’t that set a terrible example for everyone else? I get how stupid that sounds. We are not immune from life’s curveballs or fastballs. We struggle like everyone else. Tears will fall and we have people who love us and will come alongside us, IF we allow them. That is a whole other blog post for me. Death and grief suck.

The other thing death does is cause us to look at the life of those who have passed and our own lives. There are beautiful things we see and there are some not so pretty things we see. I honestly didn’t have the best relationship with my MIL, but I have watched how her death has impacted my husband and children. My husband no longer has any living parents. We lost his father when I was half way through my pregnancy with our middle child. My husband has made the statement several times “I feel like an orphan.” I can’t imagine how that must feel. I have watched my children grieve their grandmother. It’s been a struggle for them to understand why she no longer comes to the house, why no cookies appeared at Christmas and why they can’t just pick up the phone and call heaven. I’ve struggled with how could I have attempted to have made things better with her. There is frustration, sadness and regret all balled up into her death.

My sweet friend Lea Anne was an avid runner. I loved the race pictures she posted, especially when her family was involved. She and I had several conversations about running a race together. This would have meant that one of us would have had to travel. We talked about how once she defeated cancer I would make the trek to Arkansas and run a race in celebration of her defeating that nasty disease. Neither race ever happened. I regret not making the time do what we talked about. My heart aches for her husband and 4 children. Cancer stole a young, active wife and mother. She loved her husband, children and life and now she’s gone. Every mile I run this year is in her memory. It won’t bring her back to her family and friends, but it’s a way to honor her memory.

I don’t even know where to begin with Dr. Potts. You see he wasn’t a typical college president. Judson is not your typical college. There are things about my college experience that would be seen the same as most every other college experience. Then, because of the uniqueness of Judson, it was extremely different. We are small school. Between December, April and June graduates, there were only 40 in my graduating class. Judson is a family and Dr. Potts was the head of that family. Dr. Potts may have technically only had 2 biological daughters, but he treated every girl who walked through the gates of Judson like a daughter.

Dr. Potts knew every student by name. He knew our majors and what extra curricular activities we participated in on campus. He knew our family members by name. He could call them by name even if we weren’t with him. Dr. Potts chose to eat in the dining hall with the students. When we were out walking on campus, it wasn’t unusual for him to jump in and walk with us. He truly had an open door policy. You see he wasn’t some illusive figure head at Judson, he was a part of everything on campus. Dr. Potts loved the Lord and loved to find ways for Judson Girls to serve the community of Marion. We weren’t some small private college who stayed within our gates. Dr. Potts made it a point to connect students and the community.

I counted it a privilege to return to Judson to be a part of the Judson Singers Alumni Choir and sing for Dr. Potts’ memorial service. As I sat there it was surreal to sit and listen to people referring to him in past tense. Honestly, I spent the entire weekend waiting for him to appear and his office doors to open. I sat and listened as people talked about the man, husband and father he was. There were some stories I heard that I had heard a hundred times. There were other stories, I had never heard before. I look at the legacy he left and what he instilled in all of his Judson Girls and I know lives are going to be forever impacted because he lived out what he believed.

The Wednesday of the week I headed to Judson, I received word my high school choral director passed away. Carroll High School and the city of Ozark lost a great man and a talented musician. There were three men who instilled a love of music into my life at a young age and Mr. Shirley was one of them. I had the privilege of being a part of Choral Club and musical theater productions under his choral direction. I won’t admit how long I have been out of high school, but I have loved seeing posts and pictures on social media of him leading the next generation. He was actively involved in the spring production when he became sick. Knowing what I know about him, I hate these students missed out on his leadership the weekend of the actual production. His death leaves a huge hole in the music back home. Mr. Shirley also left behind a wife, children and grandchildren. I can’t even begin to guess at how many students  walked through the doors of the choral room and the stage and we all feel his loss as well.

Yes, we grieve and cry. The only encouragement I find in all of this is that we can grieve with hope. You see, these wonderful people had a relationship with the Lord and they are now sitting at His feet. Because many of us share their faith, we know we will one day be reconnected with them. The reunion will be one of great joy. We will all be healthy, whole and will forever worship the Lord side by side. If you have never asked Christ to be your Lord and Savior, I am more than happy to walk through it with you. My former pastor, Bro. Jerry, used to say frequently from the pulpit “There is nothing so certain as death and nothing so uncertain as the time.” He is absolutely correct. I am grateful for my relationship with the Lord and pray those around me who don’t know Him as their personal Lord and Savior will come to a saving relationship with Him.

Please let the people in your family and inner circles know how much you love them. Tell them frequently because you never know when it will be their time or your time to go. My prayer other than people coming to Christ is that the people around us would be loved well.

If you have made it this far, thank you. If there is ever anything I can do, please don’t hesitate to ask! You are loved!

A Weird Lent

Standard

This has been a weird season of Lent for me. I get that being Southern Baptist doesn’t traditionally call for a Lenten fast/ sacrifice of some sort, but I have followed that ritual through most of my adulthood. I have always joked my Catholic/ Episcopalian roots run deep. My mother and I are the only 2 Southern Baptists in our family. (That’s a whole other long post in and of itself). This has also always been a season of where being the grand daughter of my maternal grandmother and my family heritage on that side of the family has been a sense of pride. Wouldn’t it seem appropriate that coming from a long line of devout Irish Catholics would be seen as a badge of honor during St. Patrick’s Day and Lent?

In years past I have given up Coke, Dr.Pepper, chocolate, desserts or some sort of food. One year I either ran or worked out 5 days a week through this season. I have also participated in the 40 bags in 40 days decluttering challenge. This year I did none of that. I prayed about what Lent should like for me on a personal level. I prayed the Lord would show me what this season of the year should be in preparation for Resurrection Sunday. This year the Lord told me I wasn’t to give up anything, but I was to seek His face.

I didn’t get it. The Lord reminded me that my family has just walked through a season of hurt and loss. At the same time, the Lord was breaking things in my own life. I’ve had to lay down a good bit at His feet over the past 9 months. I came to a point where I reached the end of me. The only place I could look was up. So that sounds a bit dramatic, but true. Sometimes the Lord brings you to the end yourself, so you only look to Him. It doesn’t mean that you are involved in some immoral lifestyle or that you lose all of your possessions or even your physical health. In my case, it was a laying down of pride. It’s a laying down of the need for the appearance of perfection. It’s a laying down of saying “I’ve got this.” It’s been a letting go of being “The Major’s Daughter.” It’s a season of the Lord showing me who I am in Him and letting go of the expectations of everyone else.

In my case, the Lord brought me to a place where I have had to lay some pretty large goals/ dreams at His feet. I’ve had to say “Thy will be done.” There are two major goals/dreams I have and they will only work out IF the Lord is the one leading them and opens those doors for me. I have no clue as to what the Lord is going to do with what I’ve laid His feet. I will admit that I lack patience. In my current season, it’s the Fruit of the Spirit I most need. Its the Fruit of the Spirit I have always struggled with the most. When you’re a Type A planner and like things to fall into a neat and orderly schedule of events, this kind of season is difficult. I shared in my last post that I feel like I am in a Chrysalis, waiting to break free my cocoon. I can feel my wings fluttering and am ready to break free from my shell. I also know the cocoon won’t break free until it’s the Lord’s timing and I have to be patient. Yep, there’s that pesky little word again. Patient.

What have I been doing during this season of Lent? I have been in the Word and seeking Him with all that I have. The Lord brought me to a new Bible study group on Wednesday nights this past fall. We walked through “One in a Million” and are currently walking through “Discerning the Voice of God” both by Priscilla Shirer. Y’all the Lord has stepped all over my toes in both of these studies. Courage, patience and obedience seem to be reoccurring themes in the scripture readings. I shared in my last post that I am wearing a bracelet that says “I Must.” It’s a daily reminder that delayed obedience is disobedience and the Lord has been convicting me during this season of Lent.

As we walk into the last couple days of Lent, is there something you need to lay at the feet of the Lord? Is there something you need to surrender before Resurrection Sunday? Is there an “I Must?” I encourage you to seek the Lord with everything in you. Easter may not be your deadline, but it may your starting line. As always I encourage you to pray. If needed seek out one who is wiser than you and allow them to come alongside you in whatever your journey may entail. I have an open door policy, so please don’t hesitate to reach out.

Happy Easter Y’all!