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!