Front Porch Sittin’

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mcallister_porchIn the South there is a certain tradition that has been handed down for generations. Small childen learn about porch sittin’ when they are still infants. In this land where the heat and humidity threatens to wilt even the most callous man, front porch sittin’ began as a necessity. Over time it has become an art.

I was driving home from my parents farm a few weeks ago right around that magic hour when supper is over and dusk is just about to begin. The actual time varies, but around 6:15 p.m. beginning in March and going into early October you can usually drive down any old back road in the South and see people sitting on their front porches. Before air conditioning, it was the best place to escape the heat that was caught inside the house during the day. It was where the cool evening breezes blew and the stiffling heat waffed away. Front porches were rooms where families lived. Peas were shelled, corn was shucked, and beans were snapped while the whole family talked, laughed, shared stories, and discussed ideas for the future…together…sitting on the front porch.

On this particular day I noticed a few people sitting on their porches as I drove by. As I continued driving I began to notice all of the front porches that I passed. Each one of them was decorated with various sized rocking chairs and/or wicker furniture. They had cute pillows and blooming flowers. Some brave souls already had their ferns hanging from the ceiling. Each porch was different, yet beautiful. Each house was built so that the front porch was the welcome mat for the world. Yet, as beautiful as they were…only five of the many that I passed had people actually sitting on them. All five of those people were well over the age of fifty… well more like seventy. And, they all sat alone. I couldn’t help but wonder why?

I continued driving along that Alabama two-lane highway and my mind just kept going. It seems like people these days spend a whole lot of time and money making their porches look pretty and comfortable…yet they never actually SIT on them. I can’t help but think that my generation is missing out on the art of porch sitting and it makes me kinda sad.

The five older folks I saw sitting so peacefully on their porches were doing more than all of us busy young’uns in that moment. Perhaps they were thinking about their day. Maybe they were considering what needed to be done on the morrow. It could have been that they were looking around at what chore needed to be done next. Or, they may have been remembering the people who were not there to sit with them anymore…as well as the ones who don’t take the time to stop for a visit like they should. Nonetheless, they were  all just sitting, enjoying the breeze and the peacefulness of the evening.

I realized in that moment that porch sittin’ is an art. It is one of those things that is passed down from one generation to the next by doing it…not talking about it.

Porch sitting is a way of life that forces people to sit down and just be still.

Front porch sittin’ is slow and easy.

It’s not time for rushing around,

Or looking at our phones,

Or stressing out over things that can’t be changed.

It’s a time to unwind and relax. It’s the time when most things that truly matter get done… by doing nothing at all.

Swings sway in the breeze and rocking chairs creak to and fro as men and women sit silently in them enjoying this simple pleasure. Porch sitting has a way of reminding folks that they are truly living. It reminds them that they are alive. It reminds them to think, pray, and remember. It brings balance and peace. It also teaches lessons that can’t be learned anywhere else.

My generation sure could learn a thing or two from those old timers. We need to spend more time front porch sittin’ and less time on the move. We need to teach our children how to just be still; so that they can teach our grandkids long after we are all gone. We need to learn to slow down before falling (exhaused) into bed at night. We need to learn how to talk about things face to face (both good and bad). We need to laugh at the mishaps that befall us throughout the day. We need to create memories that will last a lifetime. Investing time into our homes and families by just being together doing nothing at all is what its all about.

Yep, I believe that Front Porch Sittin’ is a lost art that should be saved. We still have the knack for making our porches look comfy and inviting…we know how to lay out the welcome mat…we just need to take the time to actually sit on our porches and live a  little more every day.

I’ve been told that I have an old soul…and maybe that’s true. One thing I know for sure: I was a front porch sitter when I was young and I’ll be a front porch sitter when I’m old. Some things are just too good to ever give up.

Photo credit: http://www.crozetgazette.com/2009/05/front-porch-investments/

3 Girl Hill’s Hello Fresh Review

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Last week I saw an advertisement for Hello Fresh and thought to myself, “Hmmm, I wonder if we would like to try this meal plan?” I knew my Maggie would love having new things to cook and I knew that I would enjoy not having to go to the store and decide what to eat (again). We are trying to eat healthier and making a conscious effort to not eat out as much as we normally have for the past few years forever.

Anyway, I decided to give it a try.

Since the girls and I have been home sick the past two days that package was a welcome sight this afternoon! Well, they have been sick…I’m just the single mom who has to take care of them. On the upside…all of my laundry is FINALLY washed, dried, folded, and put where it belongs. A standing ovation and applause are expected here! LOL!

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I have to give Hello Fresh an A+ on packaging. Everything was cold and well wrapped. I also loved the fact that each meal was packaged separately. When you have two eager helpers, the ingredients could very easily get mixed up!

Once we wadded through the boxes and instructions we jumped right in and began cooking.

Twenty minutes later this is what we sat down to eat…

We all agreed that the “Melty Burrito Bake” was really good. Linnie did say, “I have to be honest,the bread part (whole wheat tortilla) is not my favorite”.

That’s Linnie code for: I don’t really like it, but I’ll eat it anyway. Thanks Mama.

Gotta love an honest girl!

Overall, we really liked everything about our first Hello Fresh meal. The packaging was super. The food was fresh. The meal was easy to prepare. It was ready in twenty minutes. Both of my kids enjoyed helping. And, with my $40 off coupon it only cost me $15 for this home cooked meal. I say that is a WIN!  Also, there is no contract. If you want to skip a week or discontinue all you have to do is click a button in the handy-dandy app and BAM! it’s done! Pretty cool.

If you are interested in trying Hello Fresh yourself, here is my code for $40 off. Feel free to use it and share! Since I am not being paid for this review…and we are pretty picky eaters…you should feel good about trying it at least once!

Tomorrow we are having “Honey and Soy-Smothered Pork with Roasted Veggies and Rice”. I’m already hungry!

Some Day

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Some Day

“Some days your soul is ripped apart. Some days the sadness threatens to drown you. Some days the silence threatens to drive you insane. Some days you look back and beg for the past. Some days you put on a pretty face. Some days you fall apart. Some days you decide to keep going. Some days you smile. Some days you laugh. Some days you look ahead. Some days you make it. Some days you fake it. Some days are still days…Live them, love them, share them, and remember them.”~Me from my Facebook.

Today is one of those days. I look around and I think…is this REALLY my life?! Don’t take that the wrong way. I am thankful for many things in my life, but today the reality of my life just hit me again. And. It. Stinks.

A friend texted me and said, “A lot of people think it’s only hard on birthdays or anniversaries of special dates, but then just a Wednesday happens”.

Boy, was she ever right! Grief has a way of hitting you over and over again no matter how long it has been since you lost that special person. And, it doesn’t matter who it was that you lost either.

Moms, dads, brothers, sisters, grandparents, children, friends, spouses…no matter who it was that disappeared from your life, the grief that hits you on a Wednesday feels exactly the same as the grief that hit you on the day your person died.

I have learned quite a few things about grief over the past year and a half. I am so thankful that I have had the privilege of getting to know lots of other people who are on the grief road with me. Every story, every tear, every heartache that I’ve heard stays with me. I try so hard to keep each persons story and loss straight in my mind. I don’t ever want to forget that I am not the only one traveling this lonely road. That’s easy to forget when the Wednesday’s hit.

Throughout all of my conversations with literally hundreds of different people over the past year (and a half…), I have picked up on some things that I would like to address. You will either agree or disagree with what I am about to say…and you are entitled to your opinion of course. However, I would ask that you truly THINK about the things I am going to say before you respond to them. Deal?

OK, first is the issue of dating after becoming a widow or widower. I have encountered many, Many, MANY different opinions on this subject and I have given it a lot of thought. When a person who has lost his/her spouse decides to date again he/she is making a conscious decision to keep on living.

Let that sink in for a second.

They are choosing to live, despite the fact that they are having to fight for every single breath that they take each and every day. Do you think dating someone is what they WANT to do? Trust me…it is the LAST thing they WANT to do, but it is something they MUST do in order to move forward if they don’t want to be alone for the rest of their lives. In case you forgot, they did not choose to be single again. They were (for the most part) happily married to their spouse UNTIL DEATH DO US PART.

For some reason people feel free to judge what he/she is doing with fierceness. The most critical, mean, hateful judgments are most often hurled from the very people who are closest to the surviving spouse. Children (grown or not), parents, family, friends, and fellow church members get flat out offended when that person starts dating again. Why?

This is what all of those “well-meaning” comments really say to a person choosing to live again:

                  “I’m sorry you lost your spouse. I really hate that you were left alone. I will pray for you, BUT I must go home now. See, I have to go back to my house. I can’t stay here and sit in your quiet home with you all of the time. I must leave you here to sit all alone. I expect you to get over being so sad before I see you again though. I seriously cannot take the reality of your grief any longer.

                    If you cry, please do it here. We don’t want to see it or hear about it, because our lives are still very full. We are going to get into our car and drive away. We are going to cook dinner for our family; watch a little TV in the living room; and then we are going to crawl into our beds where we will snuggle up next to our spouse and sleep until the alarm goes off around 6 a.m.

                    While we do that though, you just sit right here by yourself…in complete silence. You really need to focus and think about the person you lost…um k?  Oh! But whatever you do, DO NOT reach out to another living soul on this Earth besides me to help ease the loneliness and pain you are feeling. Especially, since I know exactly what your spouse would want you to do and obviously you didn’t know him/her well enough to know that for yourself.” (Insert eye roll)

Why is that OK? Why do we allow our kids, families, friends, co-workers, and church families to tell us that we deserve to be alone? Why do we allow them to make us feel guilty for choosing to live? Why do they feel entitled to tell us how we should act period? It literally feels like all of a sudden everyone you know is able to tell you all about your marriage even though the only person you were married to is gone…and is never coming back. The last time I checked my Bible a marriage was made up of one man, one woman, and God. Am I reading that wrong?

Next, why do we have a timeline that apparently everyone knows about who HAS NOT lost a person close to them; yet those of us who HAVE can’t seem to find it? I have searched literally high and low trying to find where God said we have to grieve according to a certain schedule and I can’t find it. Maybe you are reading a different Bible than I am or something. I don’t know.

What I do know is, there is not a timeline on Earth that will heal a broken heart. Those timelines don’t exist as far as I can tell. I’d pay big money for one though. Big money.

Just this week I have talked to three different people who have all experienced the death of a parent, a child, and a spouse. All of those people said similar things in each of our conversations about how they had been treated by the people closest to them after loosing people they love.  I could see the hurt in their eyes. I could feel the sadness in their voices.

I understood exactly how they felt.

See guys, I am upset with myself and my friends for unknowingly allowing people to hurt us so badly. I am upset with the spoiled, insensitive, rude people who call themselves “friends and family”; yet continuously do things that are mean, hurtful and uncalled for in the name of “love, honor, and respect” for the person who died.

But, I can’t even stay upset with them because they don’t even realize what they are saying!

Here is what God says:

                       “And now I will show you the most excellent way. If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all that I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

                          Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

                             Love never fails. But where there are prophesies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face; even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.”  ~ 1 Cor. 13: 1-13

So, today is someone’s SOME DAY. Today is the day that the light bulb goes off and suddenly…clearly…consciously someone will see and understand what they are REALLY saying to the people they proclaim to love.

This grief road is hard enough as it is, please don’t make it any harder by not realizing what and how your words are coming across. The tongue is a double edged sword. It cuts deep and leaves lasting wounds that don’t heal over night.

Choose to listen.

Choose to see.

Choose to understand.

Choose to love…always…forever…as long as you are here.

And, for goodness sakes….PLEASE think before you speak.

The deeply wounded, grieving, surviving, living people of the this world say:

THANK YOU!

 

Daddy Jack and Me

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“Get up in that seat right there. Now, that peddle there is the gas. This one is the clutch. You gotta push one and let go of the other at the same time. The SAME TIME…you hear me? Don’t do it to fast, just ease off of that one and give it a little gas. You gotta do it quick though. Don’t let it jerk, ’cause it will die. We ain’t got time to let it die. You just gotta ease off and let it go. Alright, go on now…go.”

Every fiber in my body shook as I took my foot off of that clutch. I held that steering wheel tight and I pushed in the gas peddle as easy as I could. I was eight years old, sitting in a hay field behind the wheel of a three-quarter ton Ford with a half-way loaded hay trailer hooked to the back. My daddy, uncles, and Daddy Jack were all back there behind me tossing hay bales onto the trailer. They needed a driver though…and I was the one who got the job.

I eased my foot off the clutch and stepped on the gas…that old engine roared and the whole truck shook and bounced forward before it died. “I TOLD YOU TO TAKE IT EASY!! YOU GOTTA LET OFF THE CLUTCH AND EASE ONTO THE GAS. I TOLD YOU TO BE EASY! YOU ARE GONNA KILL SOMEBODY!! CRANK IT BACK UP. DO IT AGAIN. JUST EASE OFF THE CLUTCH. EASE OFF IT. JUST GIVE IT A LITTLE GAS. GO ON NOW, WE GOTTA GET THIS HAY UP. DO IT AGAIN.”

My heart literally pounded in my chest. I had to do this right or I was gonna get in more trouble. I took a deep breathe, turned the key, eased off the clutch, and by some miracle managed to give it enough gas to jump forward….but it didn’t go dead! Hallelujah!!

I eased on up and managed to keep it running until I got to the end of the row. I didn’t know how to turn that monster truck and trailer yet. How did you turn it without making it go dead? How did you turn it without knocking all of the hay off? How did you turn it at all? As I sat there trying to figure it out, I jumped as the door slung open and Daddy Jack said, “Scoot over, Girl. I’ll turn it this time. Watch what I’m doing because when we get to the end of this row, you are gonna turn it and you ain’t gonna let it go dead. Ya hear?”

I watched him make the turn. I saw his feet ease off the peddles and I moved quick when he opened the door and jumped out of the moving truck into the hay field. “There ya go, now just ease the gas down a little. EASY NOW, EASY. OK, just keep going down this row. Don’t let it go dead. When we get down there (he pointed towards the end of the long row), you turn it. Go on now…” and he disappeared to the back of the trailer where he joined the other men who were tossing hay bales onto the trailer for my daddy to stack.

That was the day I learned how to drive. It was also the day that I fell in love with driving…and working…and being a farm girl. I never minded getting dirty or working for hours in the hay field. When all of your same aged cousins are mostly girls and you lived on THIS farm…everyone worked like grown men. Honestly, I think it wouldn’t have mattered if we were girls or boys. Daddy Jack expected everybody to work hard and that was that. If the job was there to do, you did it. Period.

He had a way of making it fun though. Like the time we had to haul firewood. He told us to pick it up as fast as he cut it and we did. He went down that tree cutting and stepping as fast as that ol’ STIHL® chainsaw would cut. Me and my cousins were right behind him picking up piece after piece filling up the  bed of that little Toyota pickup truck in no time. He laughed as we fought to be the next one to pick up a piece and kept on a cuttin’ until he had the whole tree cut up.

And, the time he poured the cement for my porches. It was the dead of winter in 2006. Greg was building our log house and we wanted our porches swung all around. Daddy Jack was the best cement man there was and we asked him to pour them for us. Well, the day that they started working on them was freezing cold. We wanted them washed, so we knew it was gonna be a long day before they started around 7:00 that morning. What we didn’t know was that the cement was gonna freeze because the temperature never got out of the low 30’s that whole day.

So, fifteen hours later at 3:00 am when we had all of the construction heaters blowing and the water hoses running to wash the top layer of mud off of the rocks Daddy Jack looks around and says, “Hell, this mud ain’t nothin’ but ice. Look at that…see”. Then he sprayed the water towards me and splashed it lightly on my clothes. I screamed, jumped back into the doorway, and laughed as I shook the water off of the front of my six-month pregnant belly. He pointed at the door and said, “get your little butt back in there where it’s warm. You need to be sleepin’, not washing mud”. So, that’s exactly what I did.

Then, there was the snow. He loved snow. In the eighties we had a snow storm that knocked out power for a week. We played and played in the snow with him that year. Then, in 1993 we used inner tubes from his tractor tires and his little white Toyota (the same one from the firewood hauling) to play on in the field beside his house. We played and built snowmen all over the place. He considered himself a snowman building king. This picture was taken the last time we had a big snow a couple of years ago. He told Paula (his wife) to take a picture and send it to all of his kids so they would know how a real snowman should look when it was built right.

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Sitting here tonight my mind is racing between so many memories of my Daddy Jack and me. He was a hard working man. Working… for him, was fun. He set the standard for my whole family. All of us are naturally hard workers because he never let us be anything else. I look through my family and I see his influence on all of us. His wives, his kids, his son-in-laws, his grand kids, his friends. Everyone who loved him works themselves to death because of him. And not one of us would have it any other way.

My Daddy Jack went home last night. He fought a hard battle with cancer over the last year. He left this life surrounded by all four of his kids and his wife at home. Just exactly how he wanted it to be minus the pain he was in.

I can just see the light in his eyes when he saw Greg standing there to greet him. I know there are so many other people who were there to greet him as well, but my heart is happy knowing that Greg was one of them. They had a special bond here and knowing they are together up there brings peace to my heart like nothing else could.

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I spent a day with Daddy Jack last spring at his house down by the creek. We sat in his sun room and watched the redbirds play in his yard. He told me that day that he was ready to go home. He also told me to watch for the redbirds, because they were messengers from Heaven. He believed that and so do I. He was the man who taught me to pray. He made sure we knew who God was and he made sure we respected Him. He made a lot of mistakes in his life and he told me that day “that we all do”.

He said, “Mistakes is mistakes. We all gonna’ make ’em. But, when you do, you gotta ask God to help ya make ’em right. He’s the only way. You gonna make mistakes, Girl. Just own up to ’em and keep going. What else can you do?”

A couple of weeks ago he sat up in bed and sang “Jesus Loves Me” out of the blue. My heart jumps at the thought of him singing that particular song. See, that was one of  Greg’s last songs as well. The day we lost him we went to church and we sang “Jesus Loves Me”. It’s weird how God connects things without us even realizing it.

Sadness weighs heavily on my heart tonight. I will miss that old man more than you could ever imagine. I loved him so much and would do anything for him. Looking around my home, I see so many pieces of his handiwork. My dining room table, my island in my laundry room, my table by the door, my birdhouses scattered all around inside and outside. So many things that I cherish because he made them with his own  two hands.

Heaven can’t get here soon enough for me. I long for the day when I am sitting and watching him build something else. Listening to him talk and watching him laugh. Until that day, I will cherish each and every memory I have of him. I will smile when I remember how he yelled at me for some little thing and I will cry when I miss him so much it hurts. One thing I am sure of, he was the best grand-daddy a girl could have and I can’t wait to see him again.

My siblings and I were sitting around talking with my Mama tonight and we discovered a couple of remarkable things. First, we realized that all of our kids have been to more funerals than weddings in their lives. They are all ten years old or younger. Their compassion and understanding of Heaven is amazing and we are so proud of how well they are handling yet another loss. Looking back it is truly overwhelming.

Secondly, we were so touched by the fact that all of my mother’s siblings were with both of their parents when they died. That’s just a very odd thing to happen I would say. We are a tight family, but what a blessing for my Mama and her siblings to be holding first their mother’s, then their father’s hand as they crossed into eternity.

We’ve lost a lot of people in our family over the past year and a half. Daddy Jack was my last grandparent and now he’s gone. If you have your family, please take time to spend with them. Take it from me, you never know when your life could change forever. Love each other as much as you can, because the memories are what keep you going when you don’t think you can go anymore.

Thank you for praying for us always…and especially throughout the next few days. We are sure gonna need them!

Love you all,

Em

Starting Over

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As the door closed and softly clinked shut, I sat in my chair and watched him climb into his truck. We had spent the last hour in my living room. Me in my chair. Him on the couch. Me without a shower in three days, hair a mess, and tears running down my face. Him with his crooked grin and more self-assurance than anyone should have at his age.

“It must be nice to be that dumb”, I thought as I watched him drive away. Yet, for some reason I could not get his words out of my head. They crashed into each other over and over racing around in my mind. Was he right? Did I have a choice? And, if I did have a choice…what was it?

I had spent the past five days sitting alone in my home. I had cried and raged. I had read my bible and shouted at God for what He had done. I was angry and sad. I wanted my happiness back. I wanted my husband back. I wanted my life back. I sat there in that chair and I prayed like never before. I pleaded with God to make me whole again. I needed to know that I was going to survive, but I didn’t want to survive. I wanted to curl up and die. That’s what I wanted. The desire to live had left me on that September day and I could care less about living….for me or my girls. I just did not care anymore.

But, God has a funny way of changing our minds sometimes. He had lead me to the book of Jeremiah so many times lately that I was becoming obsessed with his story. Two days before he had lead me to Jeremiah 33:10-11. This is what it says: “This is what the Lord says: ‘You say about this place, “It is a desolate waste, without men or animals. Yet in the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem that are deserted, inhabited by neither men nor animals, there will be heard once more the sounds of joy and gladness, the voices of bride and bridegroom, and the voices of those who bring thank offerings to the house of the Lord, saying, “Give thanks to the Lord Almighty for the Lord is good; his love endures forever.” For I will restore the fortunes of the land as they were before,’ says the Lord.

As I sat there and watched Greg’s friend leave my driveway, I realized that something needed to change. He had just told me some pretty hard things that honestly I needed to hear. I can say that now; a whole year later. Our conversation that day changed everything for me. I sat there and cried as he told me that Greg would not want me to live like this. We both knew he would have been disappointed to see me sitting there trying to let the grief kill me. Those words cut me to the bone, but I needed to hear them.

I sat there in my chair and looked around. All of my Christmas decorations were still out. My books and papers were scattered on the table beside me. I was wrapped up in Greg’s blanket and I needed a shower. How had I let myself get this low? I remember thinking that I had no idea where to start living. He had just told me that I needed to figure it out…and I guess he was right.

It was New Year’s Eve and I had no plans. My kids were at the farm and I was alone. I wonder what other 37-year-old single women do on New Year’s Eve? I had spent the last 17 New Year’s Eves with Greg. What was I supposed to do without him this time?

Then, I remembered. My favorite local band was playing downtown that night. I wondered if any of my friends were going so I made a few calls and sent some texts. They all had plans. Of course they did…I mean who waits until 4:30 on New Year’s Eve before making plans? Obviously just me.

What was I gonna do? I could sit here in this chair by myself all night and pretend that I was gonna start living again tomorrow…or I could get up, take a shower and go downtown by myself.

Alone.

So, that’ s just what I did.

My nerves almost got the best of me. I almost chickened out. I almost gave in to the fear of going out alone…but I did it anyway. And, guess what? I had a wonderful time! When the Frog dropped at midnight (it’s a small town thing)…I stood on the street surrounded by people and as the fireworks scattered across the sky I was hugged and kissed by several sweet friends who joined me with tears in their eyes. This was a new year. A new beginning. Time to start over…and I wasn’t alone.

Sitting here today one full year later I am in awe of the things that God has done. He has brought me through some pretty rough waters over the past 365 days. He has also blessed me beyond measure. I can’t believe the house is finished. I can’t believe a book I wrote has been published and read by so many people. I can’t believe all of the places me and the girls have traveled. I can’t believe that I am not spending this New Year’s Eve alone. Those dreams that I had this time last year have all been accomplished. God is such a good, good father! I could never had done the things listed here on my own. I had to turn it all over to Him and agree to be His vessel. I am just amazed.

Looking forward to 2017 I am filled with hope. I have hope for a future. I have hope for happiness. I have hope for more dreams to come true. It is my deepest desire to share that hope with others as well. What He did for me He can and will do for you if you let him. Take a big step out of your comfort zone and hold on for the ride!

Here’s to new beginnings…starting over….and learning to live again! May the love and grace of our Father be with you all tonight and throughout the upcoming year. 2017 is the year that we all step back and let Him slay those dragons that are holding us back!

HAPPY NEW YEAR Y’ALL!!!

There’s A Storm a Comin’

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Terror is an emotion that I rarely feel, but I felt it last week. Here in the South we have suffered from a long drought this fall. We have had a record breaking sixty-something days without rain. Everything is dry and dusty. The leaves just went from green to brown this year. No beautiful, colorful displays…just dry, crackly, dead leaves falling from the parched trees. The creeks and ponds have all dried up and the animals have gathered close to water in very odd places. There is also a burn ban in effect, so no one in our area will enjoy fall bonfires this year either. It is a sad thing to look at every day. Needless to say, we have all prayed for rain a lot lately.

It seems like God has heard our prayers though because He is sending rain. Only, where I live; when He sends rain this time of the year it always holds the possibility of tornadoes.

Like all Central-Alabamians I had my TV tuned into James Spann for updates all day last Wednesday. I looked at the forecast and I physically prepared as best as I could for the possibility of bad weather. I guess you could say that I was as prepared as prepared can be! Only, I was not emotionally prepared for the storm that was about to hit me.

For nearly 38 years I never truly feared storms. I have lived through many bad weather events (including April 27,2011) living in this part of the state. There have been hurricanes, tornadoes, winter storms, thunder storms, lighting strikes, and torrential rain events. Through all of those I never really felt scared…much less terrified, until last week.

See, during every storm over the past 17 years I had Greg with me. He protected me. He told me what to do and where to go. It was never a question of what I needed to do because he was always one step ahead of me. We spent MANY nights with our friends at the fire department. We spent MANY nights in our friends’ basements. We spent MANY nights ready to pick up the pieces the storms left behind. We spent ALL of those nights together.

Before I was married I lived: at home with my parents and three siblings; in a town home with three of my friends; in an apartment with my cousin; and in the dorms at Bevill. I never once lived alone…and I can honestly say that there has not been one night of any type of weather event that I have ever spent alone in my whole life…until last Wednesday night.

Our friends Kyle and Amy came over with their three boys before the first round of bad weather hit. It looked to be all clear around 10:30, so they went back up the hill and left me alone with my girls for the rest of the night. Amy offered to stay, but I honestly thought that I was OK with them leaving…until James Spann issued a tornado warning around 12:00. That’s when I felt terror hit my soul.

I leaped out of bed, shook my sleeping girls awake, and practically fell down the steps into the storm shelter as the rain pelted the tin roof of our home. I was shaking all over and praying that the storm would pass quickly. Thankfully it did. There were two more rounds after that one; so we stayed in the storm room until morning. I would ease my way up the steps occasionally so that I could see if James Spann had anything to say and to check FB for reports. Sitting in the storm room I had no cell phone signal…no WiFi…no house phone…and no power. It was just me, my girls, and our flashlights. Talk about scared. Yes, I was scared.

I missed Greg so much during those moments that I had to physically restrain myself from sobbing. Tears streamed down my face as I watched my girls try to sleep on that cold, concrete floor. It hit me (again) that I am totally responsible for keeping them alive and safe…even during the storms.

I fought the panic that was rising up in my chest. I took deep breaths and I swallowed my sobs. I refused to let the terror of the moment consume me. I looked up and I asked God to help us. What else could I do?

God knew I was down in that hole with my two girls. He knew I was alone in the storm for the first time. He knew I missed Greg more than anything else on earth. It wasn’t a surprise to Him. He knew that THIS moment was going to happen long before it actually happened. And, He had prepared for it by making Greg install the storm shelter years ago.

I remember the day that he came home and told me that he had bought a storm shelter. I didn’t really think we had the money to spend on one at that time, but he had found this one for a really good price he said. The guy who came to dig the hole had to be extra cautious as he dug because two little girls had to be right there to watch each bucketful of dirt as it came out of the ground. I remember the day we laid the blocks and poured the cement around it. I also remember how I insisted that the heating and air ducts be hooked into it so that it didn’t get all moldy down there. Greg made sure that everything was just right with it and he seemed really happy that we finally had a place to go for bad weather here at home.

The girls and I walked out of that storm shelter together that next morning. Greg had protected us once again by thinking ahead. We had made it through the storm and our home was still in tact.  I can’t say the same for my emotions. It took me several days to figure out why I was so terrified and why I was so emotionally desperate to have my husband back. Today, I figured it out.

That storm was another first. They say that you mark off most of the “firsts” during the first year. I guess I can say that is pretty accurate. However, what they don’t say is that firsts pop up unannounced a lot even after that first year ends. Here I was thinking I was doing pretty good on this grief train…the roller coaster tract had leveled out some I guess you’d say…then BAM! Out of nowhere I hit a 90 degree turn without slowing down. I had zero forewarning and all I could do was hang on for dear life.

I have fought the darkness a lot lately. The holiday season is rough. The roughness is compounded by Greg’s approaching birthday. Emotionally, it’s just a lot of baggage to sort through. I really don’t remember a whole lot from last Christmas. My very wise friend said that I was still numb this time last year and it is not surprising that I don’t really remember a whole lot of details. This year, I am not numb to the pain anymore. It is still very much here and there’s not much that I can do about it. Dang it!

Time helps a lot though. Deciding everyday to keep going and not give up is something I will always have to do I reckon. I don’t see how I can ever get to the point where another first won’t knock me to my knees. That part never gets easier…so I just have to get stronger. I have to stay on guard and be ready for every first left to come.

Knowing that I have to stay ready helps too. It is what the guys at the FD have to do all of the time. They never know when that pager goes off what they might have to face. They don’t know what kind of nightmare they may be fighting. I’m thankful that I understand that now.

I am also thankful for the ones who answer my texts during the storms. Knowing that they know where and how to find us is a big deal to me and the girls. It was a big deal to Greg as well. He taught me a lot over the years…but knowing who to trust no matter what when the going gets tough was something he spent a lot of time drilling into my head. I can see (again) how right he was about that now. I could hear him telling me to tell them that we were OK. I know that he was with us through the whole thing.

So, Life goes on. We push forward and we keep going. The storms may hit us unaware sometimes, but I have Faith that God is never surprised even if we are. None of us have to give in to the terror or panic during our separate storms, because He gives shelter during every storm. He gives comfort and calmness when we need it the most. I’m very thankful for His promises and I know that “His eye is on the sparrow and He watches over me.” That’s pretty awesome!

30 Years in the Making

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30 Years in the Making

Thirty years is a long time. Like…a long, long time. Yet, it somehow feels like yesterday when you are standing on the now side of thirty years.

Today was a very special day for my family. You see, on a hot July day in 1986 we lost a very huge part of our family to a senseless, violent crime.

Bobbie Crimm was my grandmother. My daddy’s mother. She was a fun-loving, outgoing, jewel of a woman who adored her family. When she was taken from us so violently no one was prepared. No one was ready. No one fully understood what kind of hole had just been ripped into the core of our family.

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Over the past thirty years Bobbie’s family has changed drastically. There have been a whole lot of weddings (and divorces); babies born (and lost); hearts broken (and healed); and loved ones who have joined her on the other side.

Our family has endured many, many changes over the past thirty years. We were once a family who gathered regularly for holidays and special events. We took vacations together and filled restaurants to the gills. When you saw one of us…more than likely you were gonna see several of us at the same time. It was actually funny in high school because everyone knew the “Crimm Kids”…nobody could tell you who belonged to who, but it didn’t matter. They knew that the Crimm’s stuck together and that was all they needed to know.

As time has ticked away, our family has gradually shifted and separated. We don’t get to see each other regularly anymore. Most of the time we only cross paths if we are at a ball game, school event, grocery store, wedding, or funeral. Once every five years as many as possible travel to Montgomery to a Parole Hearing wearing our matching t-shirts and carrying her memory with us in our faces and our names. The shear number of people who attend those hearings each round says a lot about the heinous crime that the parolee committed.

When she died, there were certain things that we, as a family were not able to do for her…or ourselves. Today, we all came together to honor her in a way we couldn’t back then. It was special to be able to be in the Mountains (her favorite place on this earth), early in the morning, at the bottom of a waterfall with as many of the family members as possible.

Naturally, not everyone in her family was able to make the trip, but all five of her children, ten of her grandchildren, twenty-three of her great-grandchildren, her sister, one niece, and a whole slew of in-laws and friends were able to be there today. What a blessing!

I know that she would have been so happy to have everyone together. And, honestly…it made us all happy to be together as well.  Like every family, we have our share of problems…however today we set those aside and just focused on the life that our loved one lived…and lost…thirty years ago.

I can only speak for myself, but I feel sure that everyone who attended the memorial today felt a common emotion: Love.

Together we as a family have endured it, given it, lost it, yearned for it, learned from it, and grown closer because of it. Family is a special gift that not all are given…I am thankful that I was given the opportunity to be a part of a big one.

As we go into this week of Thanksgiving, please seek out your loved ones. Families are made up of all kinds of things…not just blood. Hug your people close and spend as much time as possible with them, because you never know when they might turn into a memory. When memories are all you have, thirty years can feel like an eternity.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving Y’all…and always remember you are loved!

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Can I Get An Update?

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Welp, it has been a while since my last post. I just have to tell you that life has been BUSY! It is funny to me when people stop me in the store or shoot me a text asking where I went! LOL…so for those of you who want to know or are just plain curious about what the Hubbert Girls have been up to lately…here’s the rundown:

First, (because I know y’all all wanna know!) Bo and I are back together (yay!). We had several discussions and after being apart for about a week, we both decided that life without one another was just not fun. He and I have both had enough of not fun in life…so we have decided to just have fun together and enjoy each day as it comes. There is something very freeing about that decision.  There’s no pressure, no high expectations, and no worrying about things that are not worth worrying about! So, we are trying to find new and exciting things to do together with our kids and each other. So far, things are working out fantastically!! I have no clue where we will end up, but for now (and the foreseeable future!) we are gonna have as much fun as we possibly can!

Second, I have spoken at two different churches and one lady’s group recently…and I have more events scheduled on my calendar!!! I honestly cannot tell you how excited I am about all of these opportunities! God continues to open doors for me to share my story and it is so exciting! I have said many times that I never dreamed God wanted me to tell my own story. However, I see now that by sharing my story (as painful as it is) I am spreading His message and that is just awesome! My story is not about me…it is about what God has done through me that is important. I am so excited about the future and the things He has planned that I don’t know anything about yet! I still miss Greg Hubbert more than you could possibly imagine, but I know I’ll get to see him again one day. I remind myself daily that this life…these hectic days…these worries…this unique loneliness…is only temporary. I’m not sure the “missing him” part will ever go away, but it doesn’t threaten to consume me as badly as it once did. I know that this world is not my home…but it is where I have to live my life right now and I have to live it without Greg here with me. That reality is HARD, but I am determined to make the best of it! Greg wanted me to do that…and I want to do it for myself and our girls. Why choose sadness when there are so many fun and exciting things left to do?! It is a daily choice we all have to make…no matter what our circumstances are in life.

Third,  I’ve made some pretty big decisions on my own lately. One of the biggest was selling Greg’s truck and buying a vehicle for us to travel in. Talk about a huge decision! It was a big deal for me. The girls have been beyond excited about it though. It is not new, but it is new to us and we all three love it!  We even decided to get a personalized car tag (which I have never had before!). We talked about it and came up with a logo for ourselves. Building our ministry base, self-publishing books, and building a small business requires a logo or name…so we are going with “3 Girl Hill”! Look for us on Instagram, Facebook and lots of other places around town soon!

Lastly, we found out that ‘Burdens‘ is doing really well online! Yahoo! It is overwhelming to see something that I wrote actually being purchased by people whom I may never meet! Talk about weird! It is sooooo weird! But, if God will continue to use the words inside those covers to bless other people…then I can deal with a little weirdness! I believe it is called living on Faith! I have to be ready and willing to go outside of my own comfort zone and fully depend on God to take me (and the girls) where He wants us to go. I gotta say…so far it’s been a pretty good ride.

I reckon that catches everyone up on the latest Hubbert Girl’s adventures! I am writing and working on my second book and hope to have it finished by the end of the year. It is difficult to put a hard time limit on it though…because it is writing itself everyday. I’m going with my gut instinct on when I feel like it is finished. I’m not there yet.

Thanks for reading my little diary. Thanks for taking the time to pray for us. Thanks for continuing to share your stories with us, and thanks for encouraging us to keep going. Sometimes, that is easier said than done! Y’all will never know or understand how much your positive encouragement means to me and the girls. We love seeing and talking to folks all over the place…so if you see us out give us a shout! And, there is not a shy bone in Bo Gray’s body…so feel free to give him a shout as well! I can’t promise he won’t talk your ear off though….LOL!

Until next time…enjoy the little things y’all! Encourage one another…love one another..and just be kind to one another. Our crazy, jacked up world needs a whole lot more kindness…that’s for sure! Toodles….

 

The Bottom of the Cistern

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6So they took Jeremiah and put him into the cistern of Malkijah, the king’s son, which was in the courtyard of the guard. They lowered Jeremiah by ropes into the cistern; it had no water in it, only mud, and Jeremiah sank down into the mud. 10The King commanded Ebed-Melech the Cushite, “Take thirty men from here with you and lift Jeremiah the prophet out of the cistern before he dies. 11So, Ebed-Melech took the men with him and went to a room under the treasury palace. He took some old rags and worn-out clothes from there and let them down with ropes to Jeremiah in the cistern. 12Ebed-Melech the Cushite said to Jeremiah, “Put these old rags and worn-out clothes under your arms to pad the ropes.” Jeremiah did so 13 and they pulled him up with the ropes and lifted him out of the cistern. And Jeremiah remained in the courtyard of the guard.” ~Jeremiah 38:6; 10-13

This week has been filled with emotions. Lots and lots of emotions, but the odd thing is…I still can’t feel them. It is so weird! I go through the motion of using the appropriate responses to certain emotions, but I can’t feel them on the inside. I am both thankful and upset by this situation. Here’s why:

Seven months ago I found myself sitting at the bottom of my own cistern (or well). I looked up the tall walls and saw the blue sky above me, but I had no way out. Being covered in the mud and gunk that grief covers you with, my hands and feet were too slippery to grab a hold of anything. Each time I tried to climb out, I fell right back down.

I kept sitting there hoping and praying that someone…anyone would help me out of that cold, dark pit. Then one day, out of nowhere came this man. He saw me at the bottom of the pit and even though he didn’t know me; he rescued me. He was from a different place (just like Ebed-Melech). He didn’t know how I got in the cistern, but he saw me sitting there at the bottom and he made the decision to give me what I needed in order to get out.

I didn’t know who Bo Gray was at the time; all I knew was that I desperately wanted out of that well and he was there offering to help. Over the past seven months he has pulled and pulled on the ropes. He joined forces with my family and closest friends and he pulled with all of his might.

On Tuesday, I walked out of the well.

When I stood up and looked around me, all I could see were the faces of those I loved the most standing next to me. Each one had put their hands on the rope and pulled with him. I couldn’t help but notice the blisters on each one of their hands. The pulling lasted longer than they thought it would. The job was harder than they imagined. There were times when they had to step back and take a break from pulling, because it was just too hard. Some of them came back. Some of them gave up. Some of them tried to set the rope on fire. But, not Bo.

He kept pulling and encouraging and showing me the way out of the darkness. His kindness and gentleness were a steady presence even when I slipped back down and the pulling had to start over again. He coaxed me to keep trying, to focus on what was just ahead of me. He warned me not to look to far ahead, but to focus on each brick as I climbed up and be thankful when it was finally behind me. He defended me from the ones who wanted to see me fail and he dared them to try to harm me again.

When I reached the top of the hole this week, I touched the grass…and felt the wind…and saw the people still standing there holding the rope. I looked them in the eye and told them, “Thank You”. I never would have gotten out without their help, but they couldn’t have gotten me out without Bo’s decision to gather the rags and worn-out clothes to pad my arms under the rope. See, He saw the big picture. He knew that just a rope would eventually cut my arms too deep and I wouldn’t be able to make it out. So, he gave me what I needed in order to reach the top.

When I stood up on Tuesday, I realized that I could never thank everyone enough for helping me make it out. And, I looked into Bo’s eyes and saw something that I knew I couldn’t give back. This fight had been too hard. And, the wounds that I have inside my body are still too deep.

So, after all of these months of working together to get where we needed to be we decided that for now at least; our job is done. We have stuck together and given each other the courage we both needed to be able to face the future and our pasts. Bo has now headed back to his foreign land where his home and family are waiting for him. He has responsibilities and things that only he can handle in that land. He is needed, because his job here is finished. He pulled me out and set me free.

Me? Well, I am standing on the edge of the well looking back on how far I have just climbed. I’m examining my wounds and dusting myself off. I’m looking around at who is left. The people who didn’t leave, get tired, or give up. I’m realizing who walked away when I needed them the most.

I am also waking up to the fact that I need time to heal from the deep gashes that have appeared all over my body from my fight to the top. The deepest one is inside my chest where my heart used to be. I need my family and my girlfriends to help me dress those wounds. I need time to just rest and let God work inside of me. And, I need time to face the sadness that caused me to be at the bottom of the well in the first place.

Before we turned to walk away, Bo and I looked each other in the eye and knew we had no regrets. We had given it our best and he had helped me get to a place I never could have gotten to on my own. I don’t know how to say thank you for what he did. The only thing I can think of is to give him the honesty and respect he so greatly deserves. Men like him don’t come around often. His kindness, loyalty, gentleness, laughter, and determination gave me what I needed to keep going when all I wanted to do was give up.

I don’t know if our paths will cross again one day. We are both on long, lonely roads that only we can travel…and we have to travel them alone. Are we walking parallel to one another? Are we headed in the same direction? Are we going as far as the east from the west away from one another? I honestly don’t know the answer to that…only time will tell.

Right now I’m sitting here nursing my wounds and thanking God for sending someone into my life who wasn’t afraid to help me out of the cistern. I can only hope and pray that he feels like his efforts were worth it. I know that one day, he will be rewarded for doing what was right when it seemed like the whole world was trying to make him give up.

When you pray, please pray for Bo. Pray for God to open the doors that need to be opened for him and pray for peace to invade his life. I am. Also, thank God for sending him to me and my girls. We wouldn’t be where we are physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually without his help. This world needs more men like him and I pray that one day he will understand just how special and important he truly is in the lives of the people around him.

So, now I’m heading down the road of life alone…but not really alone. I have my two girls, my family, and my friends. I have a calling that I have to figure out and a life that I need to try to live. It’s not easy, but I know God has something in store for me if I listen and don’t give up. He gave me what I needed to get out of the cistern; He will give me what I need to move ahead now.

With a grateful heart and tear stained cheeks, I’m looking into the hills and preparing for whatever comes next…

 

It’s Just Not Easy…

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OK, so y’all know by now I am all about telling the truth…right? I am. I have also found myself in a position to share my honest, raw, crazy life with the world. Why? God wants me to! I have stepped way outside of my own comfort zone in order to be obedient to the call God has placed on my life. And, it is not easy!

During this past year I have faced many trials. Many, many, many trials. I feel like I have learned how to cope reasonably well…but not in all things! What I am about to share with you will probably shock some of you…and I’m sorry about that…However, what God has done is too miraculous NOT to share…so I’m jumping off the cliff of my boundaries. Stop reading now if you aren’t prepared for what I’m about to say.

The week after Christmas last year was the single most difficult five days of my life. Yes, they were actually harder than this week was last year…if you can only imagine. During that week I battled with God and He gave me a new purpose and reason for living. As He revealed what He wanted from me; I could feel myself getting stronger on the inside, but I could not explain how exactly. I panicked when I fully understood what He was asking me to do. I wasn’t ready. I couldn’t do it. Mentally, Emotionally, and Spiritually I knew I was making progress back into the land of the living, but Physically I was struggling…big time.

See, I am an emotional eater. I go extreme when I am emotionally stressed out. I have zero self-control. I eat when I have no idea that I am eating. I eat for comfort..to feel better…to just do something that I like for goodness sakes!! Of all of the things a single, sad woman could be out doing…I was only choosing to eat! I mean, we all have to eat to survive right? Yeah…I may have been a little heavy handed with the self-righteousness around that time.

In January, I realized I needed some help. I had spent three months not eating at all and BAM! all of a sudden I was eating everything in sight. So, I reached out for help.

A friend of mine had gone to the Eaton Clinic in Tuscaloosa and had a lot of great things to say about her experience. Seeing her post on Facebook inspired me to call and make an appointment. Before the appointment I did a whole lot of beating myself up mentally. I had known how to conquer that giant in my life by using my beloved Advocare supplements for four years. The guilt of “giving in” instead of doing the hard work that was necessary was really bad. I mean, I knew what I needed to do to get control…but I lacked the ability to actually do it.

The day of the appointment I remember sitting in the little room waiting for the doctor to come in and talk with me. I already knew what the diet would be and I knew the schedule I needed to follow. I had all of the knowledge…and none of the backbone. Anyway, I sat there waiting that day and when the door opened it wasn’t Dr. Eaton like I thought it would be…it was his nurse practitioner, Brandi.

This is where God showed up. Brandi looked at my non-made-up face, my slumped shoulders, and my frumpy outfit. One look told her how miserable I truly was and I saw raw compassion fill her eyes. She said, “Tell me why you want to be here”.

So, I did.

When I finished telling her my story, she stopped and stared at me. In that moment, Brandi was seeing a patient and she was telling her patient how to loose weight. She had her spill that she probably says a hundred times a day that she was attempting to say when I shared my story with her. She looked at me and shock filled her face. She quickly looked down at my file in her hands and immediately tears started rolling down her cheeks. She said, “Oh, Emily! I have prayed for you…and your sweet girls! I have worried about you…and I watched your husband’s funeral procession on the news. My husband and his brothers at the Fire Department have been so concerned about you! I can’t believe you are really sitting here! We just talked about you again last night. We prayed for you again…last night”.

I was shocked! I sat there in stone cold silence and just stared at her face. I watched her tears. I understood what she had just said, but I could not process it. Then, I looked at her and said, “Help me find Emily again. Please.” And, she did!

Over the next couple of months I lost twenty-five pounds. I felt so good and I found a new lease on life. I began to attempt living again…and I looked forward to seeing Brandi each time I went to the office. I knew she was praying for me and a praying friend is worth more than silver or gold. My quiver is full of those jewels!

Fast forward to June. We had just gotten back from our big trip and I was determined to finish the house. I poured myself into working on it and decided I did not have time to go to Tuscaloosa right now. So, I stopped trying. In fact, I gave in to every temptation I had been able to avoid for four years. Temptations like Mt. Dew, Large Sweet Teas, Chocolate Candy for breakfast, M&M’s like a fountain, and Fried Chicken Fingers by the bucket. Can you say…complete fail? Yeah…complete fail.

It was easy to fool myself into believing I wasn’t gaining too much weight because I didn’t touch a scale until we went Ziplining in the Mountains for Labor Day. When I read the number on that scale I literally almost blacked out!

Knowing the one year mark was coming up, I told myself that I would just get by in order to get through the first anniversary of Greg’s home going. I also realized that I may be strong in some areas…but I am NOT strong when it comes to self-control and/or emotional eating. I am weak…very, very weak!

I called a trusted friend who has literally helped me every step of the way so far. She helped me understand where I was at the moment and how I needed to give myself some grace.

I am my own worst enemy.

Anyway, after talking to her I decided it was time to call the Eaton Clinic again. I needed to make an appointment to get myself back on track ASAP. Guess when they had an opening? Yep! Tuesday, September 20th!! I could NOT believe it!

I walked in to the office that day and was immediately met by K-Love playing on the speakers…and Bible verses posted on every wall…and familiar faces sitting in the waiting room. That’s when I knew I was doing the right thing for me. Only…it doesn’t end there. Oh no…it does not end there!

I found myself again sitting in the little room waiting when the door opened and Brandi walked in. I noticed that she looked more stressed than she did the last time I had saw her, but I didn’t say anything. She was all business and I knew she didn’t realize it was me sitting there. All of a sudden she stopped, checked the file, and said, “Emily! How are you?!”

I told her how I was…and she listened. Then, she told me that she had ordered my book sitting in one of the rooms with another patient who was reading it one day! She said, “I’ll have to tell Dr. Eaton I was shopping online I guess!” LOL…and it warmed my heart that she truly wanted to read my book. It also humbled me that someone was reading it in the office!

Brandi also shared her story with me and asked me to pray for her by name…and I promised her that I would. I feel like I should apologize to the other patients who were there waiting that day, because she and I had a long conversation that had absolutely nothing at all to do with why I was there. That was a God thing.

The details of life are so very, very important to God. I realize that now. I had the head knowledge that they were…and now I have the heart knowledge as well. I had 365 days to prepare for that Tuesday. I had worried about it and stressed about it and cried about it a whole lot. Yet, I had no idea how God had planned it all out for my good!

I needed time alone. The drive to T-Town gave me that time. I needed confirmation that I was doing the right thing for me. I got that confirmation. I needed a new focus for this second year without Greg, now I have it. I needed to make some good memories on that day for me and my girls. We did that too.

Our “Daddy Day” celebration was hugely successful. We welcomed over one hundred people into our home that same Tuesday night. We had hugs and smiles and stories galore. I never dreamed that the day could be so wonderful. I am still overwhelmed by the outpouring of love we received.

Now I see…Year number one was all about survival. Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming.

Year number two is about setting goals and crushing them.

Year number two is about teaching my girls to set goals and crush them as well.

I am so thankful that God has this whole thing called life planned out. I am so glad that I have a new reason to be obedient! I am also realizing that I am not taking the “easy” way out. I am asking for help where I am weak…so that one day I will be strong…and God has provided the people and the plan that will help me succeed.

If you are like me and you find yourself on the loosing end of the emotional eating battle…kick your pride to the side and get some help. I still have a long way to go, but I survived last year. I know I will crush the goals I have set for myself this year if I stay focused and connected. If I can do it…so can you!!

Please y’all…If you don’t hear anything else that I say, please hear this: The little details of your life matter…always. Nothing happens by chance or by accident. Listen to what God wants you to do and push yourself forward. You are making a choice to loose by not making a choice to win. You get that right? I didn’t…but boy hidey…I do now!

So there. The secret is out. Don’t waste a single moment by not telling it! LOL…and for the love of all things good…If you see me with an M&M…call me out! It takes the village to raise a child, and I’ve got some growing up to do!