Monday, February 18, 2013

Today is Pappaw's birthday.  February 18th.  It's a date that will always bring him to mind.  This is our first without him with us.  It seems like I should still be able to call and sing to him like I did each year, or that we should have been sitting in church together yesterday like we always were when we were celebrating.

Instead, I sat alone.  Not really, because there were people sitting around me, but I felt alone.  I tried to imagine him sitting at the end of the row, in his purple coat, smiling with his family alongside him.  If I tried really hard, I could feel him there, and I do try often, because I do miss him so.

You see, they just don't make many men like him any more.  Strong, determined, loyal, hardworking, faithful,  kind, loving, protective...  I could go on and on.  He was one of the few men I have loved most in my life, and he set a high standard for me.  He always wanted the very best for me, and he was always proud of me. He never failed to tell me so.

He left home a young man before it was legal to serve his country in the U.S. Navy.  He was a handsome sailor, tanned and strong, unsure of where life was taking him.  It quickly took him to my grandmother, thankfully, and their love story began.

Life was not easy for them by any means, but they were married just weeks short of 65 years.  He was a fisherman, a hunter, and a loom fixer by trade.  More than anything, he was a husband, a father of two girls, eventually a grandfather of 1 girl and two boys, and a great-grandfather of 1 boy and 5 girls.  He was so proud of his family too.  Well, mostly, he was humbled that God had blessed him with such a loving family, and he wasn't ashamed to tell you so.

When I was little, I loved spending time with Pappaw.  He taught me how to clean fish, and he took me to the garbage dump in his truck.  I know what you're thinking:  "Not a big thrill".  However, riding somewhere with my Pappaw was a big deal because I had all of his attention.  When I sat beside him on the couch, he would sometimes squeeze my knee so hard that I would slide down out of my seat.  I would pretend to be bothered, but I always went back to sit next to him.  I felt like I was sitting next to a giant.

Pappaw was so funny.  He didn't mean to be most of the time, but he said things sometimes that just caught you off guard and made you laugh.  He didn't have a mean bone in his body, and he didn't talk bad about other people.  I loved to hear him laugh too, and nothing made him smile and laugh more than his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

I just miss his presence.  When someone is so strong, they can walk into a room and you can just feel that they are there.  Much of it for Pappaw was that he was so well-respected.  I can't imagine having ever disrespected him, because I always just wanted him to be proud of me.

In the last days, his strength was failing.  You could see in his eyes that he was struggling with not being able to do the things he once did.  He couldn't mow the grass or drive cars for the local dealership.  He couldn't lean down and pick up the great-grands and swing them into the air.  He tried to smile and laugh, but it didn't come naturally.  He was struggling with living in his last days.

I had a dream on a Friday night at the end of September about my Pappaw.  I woke up and just couldn't shake it.  I had to see him, and on Sunday I did.  He was asleep most of the time I was there, but he did wake up a few times to visit with the girls and me.  When we got ready to leave that day, he stood up out of his chair, and he hugged each one of us.  I held him a little longer that day, and his rough hands felt just as strong as they ever had.  He looked me in my eyes and said, "I love you, baby, and I'm proud of you."  It was the last thing I would ever hear him say.  He collapsed the next day.

It's one of the most devastating losses I've ever endured, losing my Pappaw.  I know he's at full strength now, having joined our many family members in Heaven, but if I try real hard, I can still feel him here.  He made more of an impression on me than he ever knew, but he knew I loved him and wanted to make him proud.  In return, I knew he loved me, and, as he told me on that last day, he was proud of the woman I have become.  It makes me stronger to think of him, knowing what he would expect of me.  I am so thankful for my Pappaw, and I hope I will always feel him here with me when I try real hard.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

My life verse.  Be still.  (And know.)

It's interesting that I was led to this verse on occasions that I didn't really have any reason not to be still.  There have been times in my life that I've been too busy, or at least I thought I was, and I took this verse literally as I would just stop and enjoy some empty time for a bit.  As I have grown older, I realize how much more this verse means.

Be still.  Have you ever just been lying in bed, completely still, with your mind still racing a million miles a minute?  Sure, we all have.  These are the times when I have to concentrate most on this verse, but over the past few years it has also given me peace through some crazy experiences.

Be still.  Our very spirit can become restless, uneasy, sometimes, and we are commanded to "be still and know".  That means we have to stop, reel it in a moment, and realize that God is in control of whatever the situation may be, and our breath and our stress is being needlessly wasted.  I tend to not worry about much, or when I do it isn't very long-lived.  It's because I have this verse ingrained in my very spirit, because there are so many times that I just have to be still and know that He is God.  If we don't believe this, and we don't allow God to be God in the worst of situations, then what kind of faith do we really have?

At this very moment, I'm being still.  I'm relying on the fact that God is God.  I rest in knowing that as this messed up world spins with me on it, God is the very one spinning it.  I rely on His comfort and peace.  I know that in His infinite knowledge, God sits on His throne so that I can sit here and be still.

Be still.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

I know what you're thinking...  "Where have you been?!!"  A year has passed since my last blog entry, and I truly just don't know where time has gone!

February 2013.  Wow.  I will soon be 44 years old.  Wow again.  I just don't even know where to start.  However, it's time for me to start writing again, for those of you who care, and I think this hobby of mine will prove to be therapy for me, and I hope to inspire or in some way touch lives while I vent.

God has shown me so many things since I last posted.  Honestly, life has not been real cool to me over the past months.  Shoot, let's be honest, it's just been plain rough.  I look forward to sharing some of these things, but for now I will leave it at this worldly struggle will not defeat me, because I know that God is leading me.  Be on guard, friends, as the enemy is lurking out there, and he wants to kill, steal, and destroy.  You can be as dedicated and faithful as possible, and still life will sometimes hand you something that leaves you scratching your head.  Scratch away, and then decide that you may be temporarily down, but you are in no way out for the count!

Some things that I plan for 2013:

*I will take care of me!  Not at all meant in a selfish way, but I'm not getting any younger, and it's time I get back into shape!

*I will continue to have fun!  I really do enjoy doing silly things sometimes, and this year a biggie will be seeing Bon Jovi in concert in March nearly 26 years after the first time I saw them!

*I will relish every moment I have with my kids!  I always do, but they are just growing up so darn fast, we have a lot of memories to make and not much time to do it!

*I will cherish the people I love in my life even more than ever.  A future blog will tell you that I lost one of the men that I loved the very most in my life in the past few months, and his death affected me profoundly.  Life is too short for us not to enjoy the people we love.

*I will be a better friend.  Gosh, I have some good friends out there.  Some of you I haven't even seen for quite a while, and I'd like to change that.

*I will learn a new hobby!  I need something to do in my tiny bit of free time, but I also think that I have allowed my own needs to be pushed aside for long enough.  It's time for some "me" time!

*I will write more!  (And, if things go well, I will pursue more writing opportunities!)

*I will be stronger.  I will be smarter.  I will be the best me I can be!  

Stay tuned!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

A new year, and a new me...

In reflection of the past year, as it seems each year requires us to do, I have seen such changes in who I am. At first I felt that I had become a different person, and as I've thought more about it, I have actually become more of who I am.

It's funny how you can be someone within and allow that to somehow be squelched to appear that you are someone very different. I don't want to toot my own horn at all, but my outer characteristics would appear to be kindness, friendliness, love, joy, energy, laughter, and sincerity. (Maybe others...) Inwardly, and to only those closest to me, I am also critical (of myself and others at times), stubborn, strong minded (slightly different than stubborn), opinionated, introspective (overthinker!), and I have high expectations of others. I'm sure there are other characteristics as well, but those are the ones that stand out the most to me.

Over the past year, my inward characteristics have become more evident. I think it comes with age, and maybe with the flow of hormones, but I like to say that my filter just doesn't work like it used to.

Problem is, I have filtered way too much. I have allowed others to control my actions for far too long. I have worried way too much about saying something that will offend someone or doing something that may hurt others. Truth is, if I'm living like the Christian I proclaim to be, those things shouldn't be an issue.

The further truth is, in holding back from exhibiting my full personality, I think I was trying to avoid the idea of other people disliking me, thinking badly of me, or talking about me. What I have found is that if we are living according to the character that is within us, if someone else is taking part in the above actions, it is THEIR flaw, not mine.

I have learned over the past year that I have little respect for people that arent' willing to work. If you're unable, fine, but if you can, work. At least make an effort. I also don't like excuses. Just own up to your responsibility and quit blaming others. Next, gossip destroys. If you don't truly know it, shut it, 'cause I don't want to hear it. If you want to hear it, you're not worth my time either.

I also learned that taking up space in a church does not necessarily make one a Christian. The church is full of people that are living like Hell. On the flip side of that, the world is full of people that are making a difference. It's also full of hurting people that won't darken a church door because of their perception of those within. It's our fault, really, church. If we dress a certain way, smile a certain way, sing a certain way, "act" a certain way, and the outsider doesn't fit that way, should they really care to join us?

This is what brings me to meeting people where they are, or as a young man I know so eloquently reminds us, "love people where they're at". Step out of that comfort zone. Sit with a homeless guy at Krispy Kreme so he can enjoy one more hour of rest in the warmth, and buy him a doughnut and coffee while you're at it. Believe me, it may just change your life. Gaze into a ministry that reaches families that are making their homes at a motel. Spend a few hours with them. Figure out how you can meet one of their needs, such as a warm jacket or box of food. Step into their world for a moment, and just see if you can walk away the same. Look for opportunities to meet needs around you. Sometimes all it takes is one simple thing.

So 2012... What will it hold? Ups, downs, tears, laughter... Blessings for sure, and opportunities. It's mostly what we make of it, as it is our choice as to how we deal with it. I resolve to continue my quest of not holding back. I will work harder, love harder, laugh harder, and live stronger. I will be aware of those around me who are truly in need. I will value my friends more, and I have developed some AMAZING friendships over the past year. I will spend more time with my family. I will spend less time trying to meet someone else's schedule and/or expectations and less time worrying about what they think when I don't.

I will continue to love the Lord with all of my heart and live for Him. I will strive to know Him better each day. (As I'm already learning....) I will be a better wife and mother. I will be better to myself and not dismiss my own needs while not putting them above others'. Yep, it sounds like another busy year with a lot to live up to.... But in reality, it's just another opportunity to learn and grow and fully become the person God intends for me to be.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Happy Anniversary!

It was a cool and windy day 21 years ago, not a cloud in the sky. I was nervous, but not about the decision I had made or the trip down the aisle. I was not looking forward to being the center of attention. I understand the concept, but there is a part of me now that believes the sacred affair should be reserved for those closest to you.

We had a couple hundred of those closest to us. Friends, family, friends of family, and probably others.... Some who knew us, many who didn't. The church was packed from front to back and side to side. Quite an impressive and intimidating thought when I reflect these years later.

Luckily I didn't think of that when I was walking down the aisle. I was way too naive I guess, but all I wanted was to become Mrs. Kenneth Mauney. My focus was only on becoming his wife and doing what I knew God wanted me to do.

It was a great day, much like a dream. We rushed through the motions and finally sped away in the car, on our way to Asheville for our first time away together. We ordered pizza that night because we were starving and exhausted, and it ended up being an early night for us in spite of it being our sacred wedding night. (And it was totally sacred to us!)

The 21 years that have followed that night have also been much like a dream. At times it's been more nightmarish, but most times it's been a dream from which I wouldn't want to wake. When you build a life with someone, investing in each others' lives, rearing 4 children together, going through nearly losing 2 of them, sicknesses, taking care of each other through times of mourning, and generally sharing good days and bad, you get kind of attached to them. In fact, you become quite dependent on each other, loving unconditionally, partners for life.

I picture us in 21 years from now much like we are this moment... Ken watching television, I on the computer, the kids already having turned in for the night. To some it may sound sad, lame, or boring, but I so hope it's where we find ourselves in 21 years. It would be an honor to still be sharing the same space together, and I can't imagine my life without him. I am still proud to be Mrs. Kenneth Lee Mauney.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

I'm not sure what happened...

Life happens. It sneaks up on us from behind, and it gooches us into the sudden awareness that, well, we need to be more aware.

Our lives can quickly get bogged down with day to day living, with errands and chores and work and play. One day, you turn around, and you just feel old.

I've been struggling a bit lately as I've started noticing lines on my face that weren't there a year ago and gray hairs that are harder and harder to cover with Miss Clairol. It's as if 42 years hit me all at once, and suddenly I'm standing in front of the mirror wondering where did time go?

Tomorrow I celebrate 21 years of marriage. I don't use the word "celebrate" lightly, because, doggonnitt, isn't it just a blessing to be able to spend 21 years loving the same person? Like my parents and grandparents before me, I take marriage very seriously, and I find it unfortunate that too many others do not. I truly believe that it's a reason for the state of the world we live in.

Don't get me wrong, I don't think every divorce has screwed up the kids involved. Some have grown stronger I'm sure. However, when selfishness seems to be the center of a split, the children truly become the victims. I see this every day at school. Kids screaming out for attention in one way or another. The cry for help I see in their faces is sometimes overwhelming. I wonder what their parents are thinking when they fight back and forth, pulling the children with them. I wonder how they justify dumping grown-up problems on 9 year old children. Just today, a beautiful young lady just spilled her guts to me, and it was obvious that she was in intense pain and unsure how to voice it to anyone. She ended up in tears, and I reassured her, but deep down, I just wasn't sure what I could say to bring that child's world back together.

When a wife tells a husband that he's useless when he loses a job and that she's worth more than him, kicking him to the curb for the next best thing to come along, she teaches her children to give up. She shows them when the going gets tough, the tough give up and move along. She's modeling to her child that love is conditional. I believe it leaves children wondering what they in turn have to do for mom to give up on them.

When a husband decides to go out drinking with his buddies, placing more importance on them than his own family, he leaves children feeling insecure. He makes them feel that they aren't good enough to get dad's attention. He teaches them that it doesn't matter how you treat your spouse as long as you eventually come home. Or, when he chooses instead to run off with the younger model, he once again makes his children feel that his own life is more important than they are, or that they have to be exceptional to garner his attention.

Darnit, why can't we model security and stability? Are we so screwed up in our society that we've forgotten the importance of it? Are we just so selfish that we don't care what it does to our children? Do we just decide that we are going to leave them fending for themselves, becoming whatever this world shapes them to be? Why are children being left to take care of themselves at such an early age? What kind of examples are we setting for our kids, or are we even concerned with setting any kind?

Kids are feeling so insecure and unstable these days that you can almost feel the pressure building inside them, and you can almost hear the steam escaping through silent screams. I think so much of the behavior problems we see today is just the bottling up of these emtions escaping in any way they can figure out. Their tiny little minds can't comprehend what they're feeling enough to express it, so they just act out in any way possible.

Gosh, my plan was to talk about how blessed I am to have been married to my best friend for 21 years, and how my parents and grandparents have modeled such great examples of endurance to me. I guess that little girl made an impression on me today. She just wanted her daddy. Nothing more, nothing less. Luckily, he stepped in, and the child I saw walk away with him was not the same dark-eyed girl I had been talking to before his arrival. If parents only knew what a difference they make, good or bad. I'd like to think our society would be a better place if parents would just think.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Wow, it's been a while...

I'm way overdue for this! So much water under the bridge since last I wrote, and the learning process over all of this time has been interesting. I think I'll jump right back in just like I haven't missed a beat.

First of all, before I really begin, my very human side would like to say that I'm sick and tired of people hurting each other and blowing by it like it's not a big deal. Yes, we are to forgive, but people in our world today are much too selfish and uncaring. Just because we stand for Christ doesn't mean we are doormats.

Hurt. Disappointed. Disillusioned. Devastated. Defeated. Insecure. Unhappy. Confused. Angry. Disgusted. The list could go on an on... I have felt all of these things in the past couple of weeks. In the midst of all of the wonderful exciting blessings of my life, stuff happens. It is interesting that it brought me to a realization.

Evil is alive and well in this world. When we are committed to doing the Lord's work, the enemy can use many things to try to defeat us. He even uses God's people sometimes. Christians become so complacent and think at times that we are above evil. Please. We are still human, and we can harm others before we even realize we're doing it. Subtle things creep into our lives and seep into the lives of others, and before we know it the enemy has won the battle. Thankfully, we as Christians have won the war.

I'm sure it sounds rather cryptic, but I have been reminded lately that humans are human, that Satan is real, and that as long as we are doing what is right in the eyes of the Lord, what others think doesn't matter. I have also been reminded that there are still Godly pastors out there, or at least one of them. I happen to think I have one of the best. He and his family are so special to me, and they have been wonderful friends to whom I can say pretty much anything. That's very cool, and I'm afraid in this messed up world that it's very rare.

I've also been reminded that my first calling is my family. I was called to be a wife and mother first and foremost, and many times I lose focus on that, all clothed in good intentions. I've also learned that discouragement seeps into your very soul, and that the words people say really hurt sometimes, even when they don't intend for them to. I know that people can get caught up in things without even realizing it, sadly. All in all, I've been reminded that God has plenty for me to do that is not conditional on anyone or anything. His calling is His calling. It's my job to stay focused on it. Now, enough of that. Let's move along to something else...

Until next time...