Category Archives: Uncategorized

Lesson Learned

Standard

Yesterday, I was invited to speak at a Delta Kappa Gamma meeting. My topic was “Surviving Life’s Ups and Downs”. I was extremely honored to be the invited speaker and I worked for several days on what I would say during my speech. I knew most of the ladies who would be in attendance and I was a little nervous because a couple of them had been my high school teachers.

As I entered the room I noticed several familiar faces. The tables were set with red table cloths and there were little paper trays filled with candy on each table. The president welcomed me and invited me to take an agenda and make myself at home. I quickly scanned the agenda and noticed that right after the welcome and fellowship time there would be a discussion on “Making Choices and Why”. Each lady was asked to take a slip of paper from a basket that had a choice to be made on it. We were told that we would not all like the two choices, but that we must choose one or the other regardless of how we felt about it; then we must tell why we made that choice.

Guess what my paper said….

“Read a Book or Watch TV”!! The whole room laughed because I was there to discuss my book, and everyone knew it!

Soon it was my turn to speak. As I talked about my passion for reading and writing and how my first book came into being, I was thinking about choices in my head and the huge one I had just made earlier that day.

 I have attempted to write fictional stories numerous times over the years and each time I have tried to write one I have failed. I did not realize until after Greg died that God did not call me to write fictional stories because He wanted me to write my own true story. That’s why He allowed me to write my whole first book in 48 hours. That’s why He allows me to write blogs in less than 30 minutes. That’s why He gives me so many crazy “Ups and Downs” to survive! There is not a story or word that I have written that I didn’t feel God calling me to write.

Writing and sharing my real life with the world does not come easily for me. I have been called “a narcissistic, judgmental, gossip that doesn’t fact check”, the “furthest from real”, “most attention seeking Jesus do-gooder”, and “fake” person on the planet.

People don’t hold back when they don’t like what you stand for and I guess in a world where anything goes…that’s ok.

Not one time have I ever pretended to be or acted like I was something that I was not. I just obeyed what God called me to do. Some people appreciate it for what it is, and some don’t. I could care less either way. I just care about God’s opinion. In today’s world, that’s tough. Doing what He asks me to do it tough. But, you know what…Him sending His son to die on the cross for my sins was TOUGHER and I can never praise or thank Him enough for it. So, even when it is hard I will do what He has asked me to do.

Looking back, I believe I have been somewhat even in sharing my successes and my failures in life. I take big risks and usually jump headlong into whatever new adventure comes my way. Being so eager to live life to the fullest doesn’t always have a story tale ending. Today, I am here to tell you about a risk I took that failed. And, it is a pretty big one. The lesson and the story!

Heath and I have debated for the past few weeks about our quick decision to move back into my old house. We love it and we love the fact that we were offered the chance to move back into this huge house with all the pretty features. We do love it. We just don’t want to keep paying a house payment when we don’t have to, I mean seriously…what were WE thinking?!

We both work hard for every penny we make and that’s the way it should be. We have also gotten to the point in our lives where we realize that a house does not make a home.

People do.

So, we sat down, and we asked ourselves if paying to live in this house was worth the price we are paying by making sacrifices in so many other areas of our lives. Why are we giving up so much of what we like to do when we have another great house right next door to this one that is paid for? We decided that no it is not worth it to give up so much for just a house and a two-acre piece of land.

I have put off having my “cabin” appraised because every time I even think about it I am overcome with anxiety. It makes me want to vomit just trying to imagine that hill without me or my children on it. Right now, my kids run freely all over this place because it is their land. If someone bought that hill it would no longer be their land. I am not ok with that at all.

I have even shown the cabin to three different couples who were interested in buying it and after each couple left I had the same sickening feeling inside. There is just no way I can let someone else have my “cabin”.

After much discussion, and number crunching we have decided that we are going back up the hill where we can breathe again. We are going back to the “little” house where all six of us are stacked on top of each other, but we all have fun. We are turning this ship around while we still can, and we are doing it because it is the right thing to do. We don’t need this big fancy house to be happy. We need each other and if that means saying, “We made a mistake” then so be it.

Life is full of mistakes.

Mistakes mean you had choices.

Some choices are good, and some are not so good.

I am just so thankful to be in a place where God allows me to make choices. He allows me to be the perfectly imperfect human He created me to be. He allows me to make big mistakes. You know why? Because that’s how He teaches us to listen to Him.

I know that I can never make a mistake too big for God to handle. He loves my every flaw…and He loves your every flaw as well. All He asks is that we humble ourselves before Him when we mess up. We ask Him to forgive us for messing up, we accept Him at His word that He has forgiven us, and we stand back up again.

That’s what Heath and I are doing now. We are saying, “Hey, God we messed up… please forgive us for making this mistake. Thank you for loving us enough to show us a better way and thank you for the blessings you have continually poured out on us even through the mistake itself.” And, we realize that He does forgive us!

That’s Grace y’all…and there’s nothing else like it.

Before too long Teresa Dobbs will once again place a FOR SALE sign in our yard. Heath and I will do our best to make the house look clean and presentable when people interested in buying it come to look at it. Please notice that I said, “Heath and I”. These four kids we have may or may not do their part of that deal so well.

If you know of anyone looking for a nice, big house on the edge of town…let me know. We are currently leasing to own, so it is move-in ready as soon as the ink dries!

And, I hear the neighbors are pretty good folks who live for adventure and tend to fall flat on their faces every once in a while…but they do try to always have fun no matter what!

Me and Mea

Standard

In the fall of 1984 my Mama took me to school for the first time. I was six years old and my Kindergarten class was inside one of four classrooms located across the street from Millport High School home of the Millport Jr. Tide.

I lived in the deep South where segregation was normal and at that time in my life I was innocent and oblivious to the reasons why I had to drink out of the “WHITE” water fountain when some of my friends and classmates had to drink from the “BLACK” water fountain. It just was what it was, and I was too little to know the difference.

I spent most of my first-grade year sitting at my desk just outside of Mrs. Junkin’s classroom door in the breezeway. I’m still not sure what all I actually did to earn that spot outside her classroom door, but I learned to really like playing with the bugs and the butterflies that I found in the dirt out there by myself.

In second grade something really big happened. I moved to a brand-new school three miles up the road from this one. It was huge and on our first day, all the second graders had to sit on the floor because we didn’t have desks or chairs yet. I remember sitting on the floor in Mrs. Jackson’s second grade classroom next to a girl I didn’t know. She said her name was Mea and she was from Kennedy.

Since I was from Millport she told me that she couldn’t be my friend. See, Millport and Kennedy were rival schools located only six miles from one another. For years and years, the schools hated one another and battled it out on the football field, basketball court, and baseball fields like it was a blood match. If you came from “Kennerdy” you stuck with Kennedy folks. Same for Millport.

So, the fact that the two schools were combined into a new school didn’t sit well with some people in our area. It wasn’t really malice that kept the two towns apart…it was tradition. As a second grader (and the oldest child in my family) I didn’t have a clue about tradition. All I knew was that I was excited to be in a new school.

Mea was the baby in her family. Both of her older siblings had gone to Kennedy and being that they were several years older than her, had taught her that “we don’t make friends with folks from “Milllllllllport”.

Good thing Mea never listens to anybody; especially her siblings! Since we were seated next to each other on that floor for what seemed like a long time, we just naturally learned to be friends. We laughed and played everyday and before long we didn’t even remember why we were not supposed to be friends in the first place. Her siblings learned that lesson too!

Our teacher was Mrs. Daffron in the third-grade. She had a baby that year so Mrs. Carroll was her substitute. Both of those ladies learned pretty quickly that me and Mea did not need to sit next to each other. With our desks on opposite sides of the classroom we still managed to get into trouble for talking or laughing out loud during class every day!

I don’t remember if we were in the same class during our fourth-grade year or not. Probably not since I can’t remember. But, we still played together at P.E., I do know that!

In the fifth-grade we both got a paddling from Mrs. Abrams for fighting. We decided we hated each other that year and did our best to make sure the other knew just how much! After that paddling though something magical happened. We formed a bond that to this day remains unbroken.

Our families have accepted over the years that there is an additional sibling that must be considered when there are major family decisions to be made. They learned during our Jr. High and High School years that me and Mea would be together most of the time. She wore my clothes and I wore hers. She got us into trouble and I got us out. We truly are Thelma and Louise.

Mea has always thought since she is the oldest (by less than 24 hours!) that she should be the one in charge. I guess being the baby of her family and me being the oldest of my family it was ok with both of us. We got to be what we never would have been otherwise when we were together. Thankfully, our mothers became friends and had each other on speed dial!

When we were twelve we made a bajillion trips to Florence where our love for the UNA Lions was born. When we were fifteen we had a small little birthday party together at my house. Our parents kinda freaked out when two-hundred and fifty kids from all over the surrounding states and counties showed up!

We took our first airplane flight together during high school when we flew to Dallas, TX with our Home Ec teacher. Mea freaked out and begged my Mama to go in her place. She even offered my Mama her clothes to wear! Instead of freaking out, I found my first true love: traveling!

After we graduated together, we would take short trips to the beach when we had the chance. One time, we watched our crazy Iowan friends go swimming in the ocean when it was 28 degrees outside! We wore the roads out between Florence and home. We hated one another’s boyfriends and told each other so many, many times.

Later we got married three weeks apart. I was her Maid of Honor and she was mine. Our sisters understood.

She had a baby a year after we got married and Meagan became my first child too. It took us six years before we had another one. I will never forget my sister Tracy calling me on Friday to tell me she was pregnant. My sister Diana called me on Monday to tell me she was pregnant. And, I was standing in the mall in Tuscaloosa the next Friday when Mea called my cell phone to tell me she was (finally) pregnant again. It was five more months before I called the three of them to tell them I was pregnant too.

The following year, we all got pregnant together again.

For a lot of years, Mea and I went to church together, played in the pool together, planned parties together, and went crazy together. Our kids have grown up with two sets of siblings and two sets of grandparents on their Mama’s sides. We breeze in and out of each other’s homes like they are our own.

We have literally faced every one of life’s storms together. We both lost spouses: me to death and her to divorce. We walked the lonesome trail of infertility; the broken years where we had no money and too many bills to pay; the fake friends who did not understand that we are not merely just friends and tried their best to tear us apart; and our girls were even baptized on the same day! We’ve lost husbands and houses; worked the same jobs; traveled the same places; spent the same money; fed each other the same food; and cried the same tears for thirty-two years. Not too many people can say that they have had a friend for literally their whole life, but we can.

Today, we are facing a new hurdle. Macy Jewel…Mea’s second child…her clone…and Maggie’s best friend since birth…is facing a medical issue that came out of the blue. This past week she started having seizures. She has never had a seizure before and we don’t know what is causing them now. Please pray with us that the doctors will be able to find a reason for the seizures and be able to treat them easily. Seeing Macy lying there so sick with no explanation is beyond hard to bear. We know that our God is a good God and that even in our darkest hour He is there. We are confident that He is the ultimate healer, redeemer, and savior. Through HIM all things are possible.

One-day way down the road, when our kids have us committed to the crazy ward or the nursing home…we will be those old ladies you hear about who dance in their wheelchairs, flirt with the male nurses, and flat refuse to leave each other’s sides. Until then, we will continue to do this life together come what may.

Charlotte’s Story

Standard

It’s a rainy, messy wintry day. I have the flu…and pneumonia! In case you were wondering…it stinks! Anyway, I decided that my mind needed a little break from reading other people’s stories, so I decided to write one of my own. Sometimes the only way to tell it is to just get on with the tellin’…so without further ado…I give you Charlotte’s story:

On January 11, 2015 I received a phone call from my mother in law. She asked me if “the girls” were home and I told her we would be soon. She said she was almost to my house and would be there waiting for us when we arrived. Twenty minutes later, we pulled into the driveway and the girls jumped out of the truck to go see what Momo was up to. When the van door opened, I heard squeals of delight coming from Maggie and Linnie. Greg and I approached the door to see what the squealing was about and to our GREAT surprise we saw a tiny, white, puppy.

Screenshot_20180108-132001.png

Yes. A puppy. No warning. No clue. No…hey do you want another puppy? Just, a puppy.

I guess I should tell you that this new puppy was number four for the girls. Momo was being sweet and thought that number four would be helpful. She was correct.

In August 2011 Greg and I went to the World’s Longest Yard sale. We had a great time and ended up coming home with a cute little Bassett Hound puppy we found along the way. He nor I had ever been “animal” people, but that puppy was so cute! Greg said it had to come home with us to live with the girls. We promptly named him Rosco and he became an instant member of our family.

It wasn’t long before we decided that Rosco needed another dog with him. We didn’t realize that Bassets were social dogs and they do not do well alone. Greg was adamant that we only have another Bassett.

So, after asking around we found one in Millport. We went to pick up this one on the way home from the farm one day. Bosco, formally known as Rosco, was a full-grown male who could be surly and mean if he felt so inclined. Thankfully, he was never mean to the girls.

At the time we lived in the trailer on top of the hill. We didn’t have a fence and the dogs pretty much just roamed wherever they wanted to go. We could always count on them being in the yard when we got home though.

One day on his way home, Greg saw a bloody heap lying in the road. He stopped and sure enough it was Bosco. Rosco was right beside him, but only Bosco had been hit. Greg ended his misery; came in the house got an old towel to wrap his mangled body in; and then lead our sad little party down to a spot under a tree beside the pond. That’s where we buried him.

Losing Bosco was also the girls’ first experience with death.

Greg and I decided that we needed to find another Bassett for Rosco. So, we called Momo and had her look for one. (She is the animal person in the family!) It wasn’t long before she called and said that some she knew was gonna have puppies. After they were born and ready to go, loaded the girls up into the minivan and set off for Hamilton with Momo in tow. We met the lady at Bevill State and put our claim on the runt of the litter. Her name was Rosie and she was adorable.

Rosco and Rosie were two happy peas in a pod for a couple of years. They played well together and seemed to love each other until the day we came home, and Rosie was alone. We looked and looked for Rosco, but he never appeared. The girls were so sad. It didn’t make sense why Rosie was home, but not Rosco.

I was on the way to the farm the day I found him. He was sitting on the side of the road just outside of Belk and I noticed him immediately. I pulled the car over and jumped out. When I called his name, Rosco ran over and jumped up on my leg. I think he was glad to see me! So, I loaded him up and took him home.

Rosco was home for about four months. Then, he disappeared again. He still hasn’t come home. Rosie was alone, and she did not do well alone! That dog was the most pitiful thing you have ever seen! She would whine and cry and crawl around begging you to pet her. She hated not having her partner to play with and would just sit and watch the girls play in the yard instead of joining them like she had always done. That’s when Momo decided that the girls (Rosie included!) needed another dog.

The day Charlotte came to live with us I declared for all the world to understand that IF anything were to happen to either one of those dogs we would NOT be getting another one. I was over the love ‘em and lose ‘em part of being a pet owner. Especially when I knew that there was an illegal dog ring being run in our area. Several people I knew had full-blooded dogs that had gone “missing” in recent months and the word on the street was that they were being taken to Mississippi and resold in an underground pet shop. (Insert my intense anger here.)

Anyway, now that Charlotte had joined our family we enjoyed playing with her and Rosie every day. They were nearly identical to one another (even though they came from completely different lines) and it was funny to watch them run around together. As much as they looked alike, they acted totally different. I have laughed many times over how human their attitudes were. Rosie was a pleaser and all she wanted was to be praised. Charlotte is a bit high and mighty. She would always spit out her medicines or eat the ham and leave the Heartgurard laying on the ground. She would literally gag if you tried to force her to eat anything. Greg and I laughed many times because Rosie was just like Maggie and Charlotte was just like Linnie.

It was the end of May or the first of June (I can’t really remember exactly) of 2015 when both Charlotte and Rosie went missing. We came home one afternoon, and they were gone. They didn’t come home that night or any of the next nights either. At the time, my grandmother was very sick. My great-aunt had moved in with her and she was also not doing well. It was the end of the school year and my whole family was doing what we could to try to help with Me-Maw and Aunt Martha. During that time Greg also started having more problems with his heart. With so much going on, the loss of our dogs was kind of put on the bottom of the list. I didn’t have time to focus on where they might be, and I was more than a little pissed to even have to be thinking about it to begin with, ya’ know?

About two weeks after the dogs “went missing” we lost Aunt Martha. Three weeks later we lost Me-Maw. Two months later we lost Greg.

A week after Greg died, I gave his turkeys and chickens away. There are really no words adequate enough to describe the level of grief we all reached. I guess I should admit that I was a little bit relieved to not have to take care of any animals; I did good to keep both of my children alive.

One day I was reading in my bible and I came across Jeremiah 33:10-12. It said:

 “This is what the Lord says: ‘You say about this place, “It is a desolate waste, without people or animals.” Yet in the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem that are deserted, inhabited by neither people nor animals, there will be heard once more 11 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.

12 “This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘In this place, desolate and without people or animals—in all its towns there will again be pastures for shepherds to rest their flocks.”

That’s when I claimed those verses as my own. I decided that one day, God would restore my land. He would bring a man and animals back into my life. And, I believed it with my whole heart.

Fast forward to November 6, 2017.

Amazingly, I am now re-married…living in the house that Greg and I built…and I have two step-children. It was our weekend to have “the kids” and three of the four were not feeling well.  On Monday morning, I had to take Abigail to school while the other three stayed home.

We were driving up the county road we live on headed towards school that morning when I saw her lying on the side of the road. I looked at her and thought, “Nah, there’s no way”.  As I got closer I looked over at Abigail and said, “Abi, that’s our dog!”.

20171106_071028.jpg

If you know Abi, you already know she is not real perceptive. Like, most things just go right over her head. So, she was really, really confused by me saying that was our dog considering the fact that she didn’t even know we had a dog!

I pulled the car over to the side of the road and jumped out. I immediately recognized Charlotte. It is weird to me how I knew her as soon as I saw her. Dogs must be like kids. When you get them as a puppy, you don’t forget who they are! I leaned down and called Charlotte’s name and she perked her head up, sat up, then ran to me and jumped up on my leg! I rubbed her head and talked to her all the while in complete shock! This dog had been gone for two years and four months!! Honestly, it was like seeing a ghost!

It didn’t take me long to get her loaded up in my car. Abi was still in total disbelief and she asked again, “Whose dog is this? She STINKS!”

I laughed and said it was Maggie and Linnie’s dog…and now it was her dog too! Abi is kinda like me…she’s not really an animal person, but she put on a good front. Except for the stinking part. It was drizzling rain, but we rode the rest of the way to school (and back home) with the windows down! Of course, Charlotte throwing up on the ride home had a little something to do with the windows being down, but whatever. LOL

When I got home, I couldn’t wait to show the girls. I knew they would be just as shocked as I was…and I was correct! They were so excited, and Sam didn’t quite know what to think. I did manage to remember to call Heath and tell him that “our dog was home” to which he replied, “We don’t have a dog”. I assured him, that yes…yes sir we sure did have a dog and she was home!

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fechubbert%2Fvideos%2F10210014091932075%2F&show_text=0&width=267“>

After I posted the video of the kids seeing Charlotte on Facebook it wasn’t long before my inbox starting dinging. A friend of mine named Emily (coincidence?) saw the video and said that Charlotte looked just like her dog “Maggie” (um, do you see where this is going?!).

After several minutes of texting back and forth and comparing pictures it became clear that Charlotte was Maggie…and Maggie was Charlotte. And both Emily’s were stunned!

In the meantime, another friend was texting me from the animal shelter. Apparently, Charlotte had been at the shelter off and on a couple of times. She had even been adopted by another family before my friend, Emily realized that she was at the shelter. When I asked where she had originally gotten “Maggie” she told me she had gotten her from someone in Berry the day of Johnny Nichols’ funeral.

**JAW DROP**

Why is that significant? Well, Johnny Nichols is the man who bought the store from us when we sold it. He was the fire chief at Lawrence Mill Fire Department and was one of Greg’s best friends. He had died suddenly from a heart attack (just like Greg) two days prior. The fact that Emily found this dog on the day of his funeral is just plain out weird.

It is also weird that Emily lived close to the store the whole time that we had owned it. (Like, when we got all four of our dogs!) Emily and her little family lived less than a mile from the store. Emily’s family had only recently moved to the county road where we now live on the opposite end! She had known Greg and Johnny most…if not all her life! She had also known the girls their whole life! We literally passed her old home place every time we went to church on Sunday mornings, Sunday nights, and Wednesday nights! So, I knew that she didn’t have “Maggie” while she lived at that other house. Considering we passed that house a lot over the course of two years it stands to reason that we would have seen “Maggie” at least once if she had been there. Knowing that Emily didn’t take our dog was a no-brainer.

It just seemed really weird that some of the pieces that fell together…fell together! Charlotte has had quite the journey!

From what I have been able to piece together she and Rosie were kidnapped on the same day. I don’t know who took them or where the next stop was for them, and I still do not know what happened to our sweet little Rosie. Emily found “Maggie” in Berry. We have no idea where she had been or who she had been with before that (the story that Emily got didn’t add up when we figured out that Maggie was Charlotte).

I do know that Charlotte spent a good deal of time in and out of the pound. She was picked up numerous times by my friend, Phil before she was adopted by a family who paid to have her “fixed”. When I was questioned about having her fixed before she went missing, I couldn’t remember. Then, I remembered that we had planned to have her “fixed” but she was not old enough to do so before she was taken. Thankfully, the animal shelter requires that animals be “fixed” before they are adopted. I asked Phil if I needed to pay for the vet bill, especially since someone else had already paid for it and they didn’t have “their” dog anymore. Phil assured me that everyone had been reimbursed and that I didn’t owe anyone anything. He was really glad that now Charlotte was HOME.

That night I just had to laugh at how amazingly CRAZY this whole story was! I don’t know how, why, or if there is even a reason that so many of the details are so intertwined. What I do know is that Charlotte is without a doubt, home. I am a huge skeptic about a lot of things…but when you see an animal recognize its home after not being there in two years and four months…you don’t easily let it pass from your memory!

Heath’s first text after seeing Charlotte’s homecoming video on Facebook was: “Out of the House”. That night he and the kids built a dog house for her out of the molding I had torn down in our kitchen. The molding Greg had put up in that same kitchen eleven years before when I was pregnant with Maggie. I sit here today (in my chair!) and just laugh. I mean really, does this blow anyone else’s mind as much as it does mine?

Oh, one more thing. Charlotte spent two months moping around because she is a Basset Hound…and Basset Hounds are social animals who hate being alone right? Right. So, now we have Gypsy who is not a Basset Hound and who…as far as I am concerned…is the caboose for this crazy train!

 

Now you know the whole story or at least as much as I can remember in my current dazed and confused condition!

The Widow’s Road

Standard

A few years ago, I decided to study good leaders. I was interested in what made a person someone whom others looked up to and aspired to be like. I was fortunate to be surrounded by amazing leaders at that time and they poured into the people around them daily (and still do!). Anyway, I read a lot of books about leadership. I started my study with Nehemiah and just kept going. I discovered a lot about myself during those days of reading and listening to people who gave selflessly of themselves in order to help other people live better lives. I found a new sense of awareness within myself of being the kind of leader that others wanted to follow.  I didn’t know that God was preparing me for being a leader alright…just not in the business world like I had originally thought.

In a lot of ways September 24th is lot harder than September 20th for me. Flipping through my memories this morning I was humbled and surprised yet again by the outpouring of love the girls and I received on the day of Greg’s funeral. Not only did our community reach out to us, they honored Greg’s life in a way that was awe inspiring. I will never forget how humbling it was to ride behind that firetruck as it carried his casket to the cemetery. The respect that was shown to him was a testament to the caliber of man he was at the end of his life.

I have had so many people approach me and tell me stories of how Greg’s example …in one situation or another was helpful for them as they faced different events in their own lives. Greg never thought of himself as a leader. He thought of himself as a worker. That is what he took the most pride in…working hard and having respect for everyone no matter what their station happened to be in life.

I watched a video this week of Mr. Rogers from ‘Mr. Rogers Neighborhood’ and he was talking about his mother. Mrs. Rogers said, “in any tough situation if you wanted to see the difference makers you should look for the helpers. The ones who show up and just do things without expecting anything in return. They just do what needs to be done and don’t question ‘if’ or ‘when’ they should do it…they just show up and get to work”.

Greg was a helper.

Living with a helper for almost seventeen years made an impact on me. I also grew up in a family of helpers and for that I could not be prouder. Hard work and digging in to help others is just a way of life. My parents do that, my grand-parents did that, and I am trying my hardest to raise my girls to do it as well.  I expect them to step in and notice when someone needs help…and I expect them to just do whatever needs to be done with no reward other than that feeling deep inside that they know they did the right thing. It just occurred to me this morning that teaching them to be helpers will also teach them to be leaders.

I woke up this morning and as usual I flipped on Facebook and scrolled through my memories. I love seeing my life in review sometimes. Don’t you?  I can’t always enjoy the memories, but most days I can. Anyway, I didn’t immediately realize that this was the day of Greg’s funeral until I saw my memories. Then it all came flooding back. I remembered exactly how it felt that day at the funeral home. I let myself think about all those feelings and emotions for about two seconds before a text popped up.

It was Miranda.

God works all things together for His good. All things. I know this to be true deep inside my soul. I know it beyond a shadow of a doubt. I know it because I have lived it. Tonight, we had a fish fry at the church. If felt good to eat, talk, and laugh on this day instead of being overcome with sadness like we were two years ago. Just that fact by itself is a miracle. But, this story is about another miracle…the one Miranda and I share.

See, Miranda and me…we are sisters. Just like me and the Pam’s, the Cindy’s, the Janet’s, Michelle, Linda, Tasha, Mary Frances, Samantha, Tammy, Stacy, Brenda, Renee, Lisa, Teresa, Tippa, Melanie, Lenora, Sheila, Brandi, Rosalie, Peggy, Tandi, Marie, Kathy, Rebekah, Sue, Lorraine, Sheila, Paula, Debrah, Emily, Dotty, Patsy, Carla, Kristina, Becky, Patricia, Sue, Rhonda, Lori, Tina, and many, many others. We have all walked a journey together that is eerily similar, yet different.

However, Miranda and I are especially close. Our circumstances are unbelievably similar. We have argued about who had it worse…me because there was no time for goodbyes…or her because there was. We have talked, cried, laughed, prayed, and threatened to run away together a lot over the past two years. To say I am thankful for her would be putting it lightly.  She gets it in a way no one else close to me can most of the time. We communicate without words a lot…one look as we pass in the mornings says all we need it to say. The relationship we share is precious and I am so very thankful for it and her.

Miranda lost the love of her life to cancer on Labor Day weekend 2016. Eleven months after I lost Greg. Michael was a policeman and together he and Miranda have two beautiful daughters. Their family lives in the next town and just like Greg and I…everybody knows them. They are helpers too. Michael’s legacy is jam packed with the same kind of stories as Greg’s. They influenced lives everywhere they went and even in places they didn’t go. If you mention Michael’s name the first thing anyone says is, “He was a great guy”. Miranda and Michael were together almost as long as Greg and I were. They faced a lot of the same battles that we faced…and they had sendoffs to heaven that made lasting impacts on every person who witnessed them in person.

Michael’s visitation was the first one I allowed myself to go to after Greg’s. I feared going back to a funeral home or church visitation (still do). I hated facing the memories that flooded my mind at the very thought of walking into a crowd of people, much less a funeral home. But, I never hesitated to go to Miranda that night. I knew better than anyone else close to her how hard it was gonna be. I knew that she needed lots of water; time to sit down and take a break; and hugs of encouragement to know she did have the strength to keep greeting the people as they filed through to pay their respects.

My presence that night was to be a helper and it almost killed me to do it. It wasn’t until I got home that I fell apart. I cried and sobbed…I shook and got nauseous…I asked God why He would make me go through that again less than a year after I went through it myself. I didn’t understand what His plan was and I didn’t like it one little bit.

This past Wednesday, exactly two years to the day, one of Greg’s greatest friends had a heart attack and died. When I heard the news, I got sick to my stomach and began to shake all over. I could not get my kids delivered to our friends fast enough…I had to go to my friend’s home and hug her. All I could focus on was getting to her and hugging her close. No other thought could enter my mind. I had to send a message of apology to another sweet friend who hugged my neck as I dropped the girls off because I had no clue if I had even spoken to her. I just needed to get to my friend’s house…fast.

When I walked in the door, Heath was behind me. Bless him…he truly is an amazing man. God blessed me big time with him.

Anyway, as I walked in I scanned the room and saw familiar faces everywhere I looked. They all knew me. They all knew Greg. They all knew how intricately wound my family and this family were. I walked over to my friend and I hugged her with all the strength I had and I told her that she was not alone.

And, I meant it.

I looked up and met the eyes of her sister who has also walked this widow road. I prayed right then that God would use us to make her journey easier somehow. It wasn’t until I got home that I fell apart. The shaking, nausea, tears, and overwhelming sadness took over again. I knew what she was in for and I dearly wanted to take the pain away from her somehow, but in my heart, I knew there was nothing I could do except pray and just be there. So, that’s what I did.

The next morning, I woke up to find a message from a woman who was sitting in that room the night before. She was there and she knew how hard it was for me to put my pain aside on that specific day in order to help my friend. She thanked me for doing what I did and I immediately felt ashamed. In no way did I consider my presence that night as star in my own crown. I could only focus on the fact that my friend needed me and it didn’t matter what day it was for me…she needed to be loved on and hugged on because she was facing her own nightmare. Yes, it cost me dearly emotionally…but it blessed my heart to know that my friend was surrounded by people who understood where she was and that she was not alone. The fact that the other sweet lady noticed was mind blowing to me.

I have struggled with that situation all week. I have questioned God and why He asks me to do these hard things that have a huge emotional cost repeatedly. I have prayed that He would let others see Jesus in me for years. I have struggled with my temper, my attitude, my smart mouth, and my impatience with people in general. I have failed so many times it is pathetic and I didn’t see why God continued to ask me to essentially hurt myself emotionally over and over again in order to please Him.

It didn’t make sense…until Miranda texted me this morning:

            “I just want to say thank you. I knew (or I thought I knew) that it had to be hard                    for you to come to Michael’s visitation, but you were there. You were the example              that I am trying to be today….and I am struggling. I will take deep breaths and I                  will do exactly what you did for me. I will be there for his wife. Please pray for me              and his family. They are in the same boat as us”.

That’s when it hit me! God uses ALL things for HIS good! Every single emotional dollar I have paid was so that Miranda could be what she needed to be for this sweet woman and her two girls today. Every single emotional dollar Miranda is paying will be so that other women can find the strength they need to do for someone else what was done for them. This cycle did not begin with us…it began long before us on an old rugged cross upon a hill.

Jesus paid it all…so that we could all be saved. God worked ALL things together for HIS good on that cross…and He has not stopped using what was meant to destroy Him to make Us stronger. God is Good.

After I realized this, I was flipping through my pictures and this is what I saw:

leader quote

The story is starting to come together. God is asking the widows to be leaders for Him! By humbly being helpers, we are becoming leaders. I didn’t sign up for this…neither did Miranda…or any of the millions of other women who walk the widow road. Yet, God is still using our stories and experiences to help other people see that this is not our home. We are all passing through, but we have a choice in where our eternal home will be. Which way are you headed? Do you know? If not, please talk to someone today…now…. don’t wait! Jesus is coming back soon and we must all be ready.

One last note, please…please remember the widows when you pray. Once a widow becomes a member of this club she never gets out. No new relationship; no new life; no amount of time changes the fact that the rug was ripped out from under that woman and life as she knew it ended the day her spouse died. This is not a race that is ever finished…it costs us dearly to become lifetime members…and it takes a lot of prayer to ease the pain. Knowing we are never alone is a blessing none of ever realized we couldn’t live without. So, the next time you feel God asking you to do something that is hard…DO IT! The blessings you get in return are indescribable and can only be gotten through obedience to Him.

Full Circle

Standard
Full Circle

In the deep south, there are two kinds of people: Mountain People and Beach People. There is no in between. Either you love going to the mountains every time you get the opportunity or you book your condo at the beach a year in advance. Now, don’t get me wrong both groups will visit the other locations occasionally, but they remain true to one or the other in their heart for their whole life.

I am a mountain person and I have been blessed to have married two other mountain people in my lifetime. When Greg and I were newlyweds we would run off to the mountains every chance we got. Mostly it was around Christmas each year, but we did enjoy several trips at other times of the year as well. During those trips, we would ride around and look at houses and dream of one day owning our own log cabin. We bought magazines (because Pinterest had not yet been invented!) and cut pictures out of different things we wanted to include if we ever built our own log cabin. I kept them all in a three-ring binder.

Heath and I have only been married for two months and we have already been to the mountains twice. I have been five times this year alone. And, before you ask yes I have considered moving there MANY times and it still is not out of the question!

Anyway, back in 2005 I had just finished my bachelor’s degree at the University of Alabama and was teaching at Winfield. Greg was the Fire Chief in Fayette. We decided it was time to build our dream home and so that’s exactly what we did. The day Greg dug the footings for the foundation was the same day I found out that I was pregnant with Maggie.

Naturally, that house took on a whole new meaning for us when we found out a baby was gonna join our family after six years of infertility.

In May of 2006, just seven days before Maggie was born we moved into our dream home. Life for the most part was great! Little did we know what kind of storm was about to hit us.

I was induced with Maggie at 37 weeks. Since she was my first baby to deliver they let me labor for over 27 hours. My water was broken by the doctor and the three epidural attempts never worked. So, after pushing for three hours I was finally taken back for a C-section where they put me to sleep under general anesthesia. When I woke up I had a 105-degree temperature and no clue if I had a boy or a girl (Greg was the only person who knew what we were having). They didn’t tell me many details for the next three days because I was so sick. On the fourth day, my fever broke and I was finally able to see my baby for the first time. Together, she and I spent the next twenty-two days inside that hospital. Greg drove back and forth as much as he could, but he couldn’t afford to take off work that long. So, most of my time was spent inside the NICU or walking back and forth carrying milk from the room I was staying in at the hospital.

When Maggie and I finally came home with Greg it was wonderful. Life was good and we began settling in as a family. In September of 2006, we bought the store. Greg quit the fire department and we switched our focus to a family run business. In December 2006, I found out (against all odds) that I was pregnant with Linnie. Talk about shock! I was in deep shock for a while! So was Greg.

When I was five months pregnant with Linnie, Greg came home one day and announced that he wanted a divorce. During the following six years we went on to lose our business, our house, our vehicles, our respect for each other, and our pride. If it could be lost we lost it. Yet, we found a new life in the process.

God mended our marriage, He mended our hearts, and he mended our finances. It was not an easy thing to endure…especially when we thought about “our house”. One day on the way to see some friends in Atlanta the Miranda Lambert song, “The House that Built Me” came on the radio as we were passing the racetrack in Talladega. Greg started crying so hard that I told him to pull over. When he could talk again he said that “our house” was built with all the love he had for us. He wanted us to grow old there, he wanted our children to grow up and make memories there, he wanted them to have their pictures made on the front porch steps when they were headed to the prom. Every dream he had for our family was centered around that house and he was devastated to have built it himself and lost it.

old house last day

Greg took this picture a few minutes before we walked out of the door for the last time the day we moved out. Behind that smile was a very broken woman. I was sad to the bone and had no idea what was going to happen next. Maggie remembers this day, but Linnie does not. I, however will never forget it.

For three years I could not even drive by the house without crying. I honestly grieved losing that house as much as I had ever grieved in my life up to that point. I cried out to God to please let us have our house back. I wanted it back so bad that I could taste it. I almost let myself become bitter because He didn’t let it happen. How childish I was! I wanted my house and I could not understand why God took it away from us. Finally, after three years I gave the house back to God. I told him that I was OK with not living there and that I would be content wherever He lead me. I asked him to forgive me for my selfish desires and I asked Him to bless those who were fortunate enough to live there in all the days to come.  God was faithful and He heard my prayers. He sent someone to live in the house that would one day be the pillar I needed to survive.

After Greg died I spent three months sitting in a chair. I lost touch with reality and I lost touch with life. My world crashed and all I could do was sit around looking at the ashes that were left. Thankfully, I had a family and friends who didn’t give up on me. They loved me back into living and one of those people was the woman who bought “our house”.

She stepped in and helped me to find healing. She gave me the things I needed to survive. She told me to listen to my Mama. She told me to get up and start over. She cooked dinner…and gave me books…and warm cookies. She sat on my couch as I cried and wondered how to find my way out of the darkness. She took my girls and gave them things to learn and time to relax. She was the first person to read my book and she was my cheerleader throughout the whole publication process. She opened her doors to us and encouraged me to spend time in the house or on the porch soaking in the memories and feelings that Greg had left in that place. She even had our hand prints cut out of the driveway cement and delivered the piece of stone to us so that we would have it at the new house. She loved us unconditionally and to this day I could never repay her for all she did to help us live again.

Two weeks ago, she texted me and said she had some big news. She had been offered a job in another state and would be putting the house on the market. She didn’t want me to be upset about it. Little did she know that Heath had fallen in love with that house too.

After twenty minutes of texting and a late-night visit…we had worked out a deal. Before I left, she gave me this:

 

Every one of the sixty-six dimes inside this jar were found in the house during a three day time span. Do ya reckon Greg knows that on October 1st, 2017 Heath and I will have officially bought “our house” back? To say that all of us directly involved were shocked by these dimes would be an understatement!! And, it’s not just the dimes. I still cannot believe that we are really getting “our house” back! I still cannot believe that we are really moving back into the house that “built us”. I still cannot believe that all the dreams Greg had for his family will now come true.

God gave me the promise of Jeremiah 33:11-12 on or around January 9, 2016. That day is especially significant because that is the day Greg and I started dating in 1999 and it is also this amazing woman’s birthday! Coincidence? I think not!

Those verses in the book of Jeremiah say this: “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.”

You do not have to know me to see how amazing this story is! But, if you do know me or if you knew Greg you can clearly see that this is out of this world crazy! But, the story does not end there.

Heath, the man God prepared to become my husband long before I even knew I would want another one is also being restored. See, his story is wrought with love and loss as well. He has walked through a deep, deep valley and now he is being blessed with a home and family of his own again. His story is equally amazing and maybe one day he will want to share it, but for now he is content to just share this part of it.

Together he and I both want the world to see God in us. We cannot and will not take credit for what God has done. The mountains were too high, the valleys too low, the burdens too heavy. We would not be where we are today without the cleansing power of Jesus’ blood and sacrifice.

I hope our story inspires you to keep going. Keep trusting, keep believing in the One who can make all things possible. This world is not our home, we are all just passing through. My prayer is that everyone who reads this takes the time to know the King of King and Lord of Lords for His ways are true and His burdens are light. He’s coming back soon…are you ready?

September 20th is only ten days away. I honestly believe this second ‘Daddy Day’ will be filled with joy as we relish in the dream Greg had for his family coming full circle. I know a lot of you will have questions about what will happen next with the new house. The only thing I can tell you at this moment is “I don’t know”! I guess you will all have to stay tuned to find out! One thing I know for certain: God already has it worked out in full detail. I can’t wait to see what His plan is and how it connects to this one!

The Camping Trip Straight Out of Deliverance!

Standard

I promised ya’ll a great story…and I’m here to deliver on that promise. If you have ever heard the dueling banjos from the movie Deliverance…let it start playing in your mind right now. You will thank me later! (I can’t get the link to upload…and the clip has some terrible language in it so I won’t share it…just google it if you need a refresher!)

This story begins last Friday, July 21, 2017.  We had planned to go camping at a new place and I had made the reservations online. Having never been to this particular campground before, we were not real sure what to expect. Tracy (my sis), her family, and my parents had been there recently and they all had great things to say about it. I’ll spoil this blog by saying…I do NOT have great things to say!

Anyway, it was 98 degrees outside that day. In Alabama that means 200% humidity or sweating weather. We sweat just walking out the door here, so you can imagine how sweaty and hot we were just hooking everything up in order to leave. It was ridiculous. Since we had to wait on Heath to get home from work, we didn’t actually get to leave the house until 5:30 or so. We didn’t even get to the 4-way stop by our house before Heath called and reminded me of two things we needed. I had to get gas in the truck so I went to the gas station then back home while Heath stopped by a store to check on an item that he didn’t even end up buying. When I called him he was ahead of me on the highway so we didn’t see each other again until we were within twenty minutes of the place we were going. He had pulled over and was waiting on me to catch up. When I saw him, he pulled out behind me and we went on to the campground. So far, so good. Right? Right.

We turned into the campground road and followed it way back into the woods. I approached the gatehouse (since I was in the first vehicle) and no one was there. In every other campground we have visited they have a number listed that you call and you can go on to your sight (since we were preregistered). I pulled up and Heath attempted to call the number on the window. No answer.

He told me he couldn’t get anyone on the phone so I pulled out my phone to find the reservation (and could know which number site we were in). I found the info and said, “Let’s just go to our site. We can call them in a few minutes”. So, that’s what we did. Only, this campground had a gate with a keypad that you are supposed to use to get into the main camping area located down the road into the campground. You can’t see it from the main gatehouse. Please…ask me if that code was on my reservation. No, no ma’am it was NOT.

Lucky for us, this gate also had a phone number to call in case you were unfortunate enough to NOT have a code. So that’s what I did. I got my handy dandy little phone out and I dialed that number. A man answered. I told him that we had reservations and needed the code to enter the park. He then proceeded to ask me my name, phone number, address, and site that I had pre-booked. I provided the information…like any good criminal would and asked (nicely) for the code. AGAIN.

The man’s voice starts telling me “Pound, #, #, 5, #, 5). Well, since he was silent between the pound and the number 5 I began repeating him. I figured he was waiting on me during the pauses.

No…no people he was NOT waiting on me.

He was going in and out of service and I was only catching the # and 5. This is when he started yelling. Loudly…#! 5! #!5! #!5!….and I started yelling #5! #5! #5! Back at him. This went on for about 45 seconds longer than necessary because the next thing I hear is this man yelling at me saying: “IF YOU WILL JUST SHUT UP YOU WILL BE ABLE TO HEAR ME!”

Can you just imagine my face? Like, it went from shock…to awe…to LIVID. Just that fast. When I tell you I got mad I am NOT kidding. If you know me you can start laughing right now. Honestly, can’t you just see my face and the rage that immediately took over my entire body. From the ground up I was shooting flames and the thoughts going through my head would have scalded that man’s ears had I let them fly out of my mouth. Thank the LORD he delivered me because by some miracle I didn’t say anything. I simply hung up on the “Uh…Man”.

This is the point where I marched my mad little tale back to the truck where my unsuspecting husband of 21 short little days was waiting. Well, as I approached his window I could tell that he recognized the split second before I threw my phone at him that I was TICKED. He caught the phone and looked at me like I had lost my mind….and I was not far from it at that moment. I told Heath that he could call that Uh…Man (ha!) back and get the code. Otherwise I was going to drive through the freaking gate and he was welcome to follow me. I was past livid as I spun around on my heel and marched back to the truck.

Of course, Heath called and the Uh….Man gave him the code with no problem. Heath calls me, I type it in and head straight for our campsite (that I pre-booked online). Guess where it was? Yep…you guessed it! Right across the flippin’ street from the Uh…Man (ha!).  Ugh…how I wish this was the end of the story. It is not.

The time is now nearing 8:00 p.m. We had a friend of Maggie’s with us so she and my girls jumped out ready to get things set up. We had planned to ride around in the boat for a while before it got too dark. Ha! How silly we were to think we would be able to do that at this point!

As we were getting everything set up (me inside, Heath and the kids outside…all of us soaking wet with sweat again) the Uh…Man drives up on his spiffy little golf cart. He tells the kids that he needs to give me some information. Maggie comes to the door and said, “that man needs to see you”. I poked my head out the door and said, “Well, he can wait. I’m busy right this moment” and I slammed the door.  Poor Heath was just trying to get finished so he could change out of his soaking wet clothes. He heaved a heavy sigh and slowly walked over to the Uh…Man.

At this point all my Dear Husband wanted was food, air-conditioning, and dry clothes. It was late, he had been up since 4:00 a.m. and he was ready to call it a day. Bless him.

When he walked over to the Uh…Man sitting on his spiffy little golf cart he had no clue what was about to happen. The Uh…Man gave him the necessary paperwork for our campsite. He also proceeded to tell him that no vehicles could be parked on the grass. There was a $150 fine PER TIRE sitting on the grass. Until this point, Heath had been cool, calm, and collected. However, now the Uh…Man was saying that his beloved bass boat had to be parked in a parking lot located half a mile away and left there the whole time we were to be camping. Let me just fill you in on a few quick facts about my husband. He is a retired Marine. He is a neat freak. He takes better care of his boat than most people do of their children. He is very close to having full blown OCD. And, he had someone who wanted to buy the boat the next week. Does anyone see where this is going?

After taking time to actually ride down to the afore mentioned parking lot, Heath calls the Uh…Man’s cell phone (yet again) and tells him that his suggested plan will not work. At. All.

Heath offers to rent (at full price) the campsite next to us so that he can park the boat there for the weekend. The Uh…Man says, “No. You have to have a camp structure on the spot for it to be rented.” Heath tells him we have a pop-up canopy and the Uh…Man tells him that it has to have closed in sides to be considered a camp structure. So, basically it was either park at the parking lot where “I told you to park” or nothing. Can you feel that rage building yet?

What did we do you wonder? Well, we put everyone into the truck; rode around until we found a bigger campsite; called that same cell phone number AGAIN; told him we were moving sites; and went back to site #1 to unhook everything and move. Yes, yes we did. The time now is nearing 9:00 p.m.

I’ll save your eyes the pain of reading the next two hours worth of hollering, eye-rolling, sweating, and cussing under our breath. Honestly, it was so bad that I was seriously surprised to see my brand-new husband still there when we finally got everything setup at the new campsite. It was awful. Then, I still had to fix some supper!!

I had planned to cook taco salad for supper, so I pulled out the hamburger meat and tried to turn on the cooktop in the camper. The pilot light would not come on. I tried again. No pilot light. The gas was not working…or we were out. Who knew at this point? The kids were sitting like piranhas on the coach, Heath was pacing back and forth inside the 9,000 degree camper (because we had just now turned on the A/C), and I could not get the flipping gas stove to work!!

Go ahead and ask me if I could find a flashlight…or if the door got slammed and it messed up…or if the hook that holds the rack for towels & rags broke off the bathroom door…or if we got eaten alive by bugs as we set up the outside stuff…or if the bathhouse right across from us was in working order…or if Heath ate more than three bites of the supper that I finally sat in front of him at 10:27 p.m. Please….ASK ME.

At 10:43 I picked up my phone and saw a text message from my sister Tracy. She, my Mama, Emma, and Garrett were in Waco, TX and she had sent me a bunch of super cool pictures. I replied to her text with “So cool!!” and a whole bunch of Smiley faces.

Then, I sent her this text: “We are on the camping trip from Deliverance. Hell. We are in hell.”

To which she replied: “Awe it is so hot outside. What happened?”

I responded: “Do you have like 3 hours?! We are literally in hell. I’m either going to go into hysterics laughing or slap crazy screaming like a banshee.”

She responded: “LOL”. That’s sister code for…Oh Lord…this must be BAD.

The next day didn’t go much better. I had bought a brand new tube & rope to use behind the boat (that I didn’t know was gonna be sold!) and almost got drowned on it. It wasn’t blown up enough, the boat ran hot, the water in the lake was hot, there were 5,000 boats on the water, the wakes were ten foot tall, and the tube had to be held by hand as we ran 60 mph on the water because that’s how bass boats run. I won’t mention the fact that the tube blew out of the boat nearly ripping my little finger off of my right hand, or the fact that the ladder didn’t get put back up and was pounding against the fiberglass bottom of the boat unbeknownst to us, or that when we loaded the boat back onto the trailer I didn’t pull it tight enough and we had to re-load it. Or that the “motor-tote-er” got bent.

 If you are still reading, please understand me when I say THANK THE LORD we made it home in one piece! We woke up Sunday morning like we had fire in our veins! We had that place broke down and loaded up faster than lightning! We could NOT get out of there fast enough. And, do you want to know what the Uh…Man said when he flagged us down…as we were squalling tires to get out of there?

“Glad y’all came! Please leave us a review on this little card here and come back real soon!”

You betcha there, Uh…Man. You betcha! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! Not a rat’s chance!

I wonder where we will go camping next?

How the Gypsy Got Caught in the Cowboy’s Webb…A New Chapter Begins

Standard
How the Gypsy Got Caught in the Cowboy’s Webb…A New Chapter Begins

Well, a lot has been happening behind the scenes over the past few months. A. LOT. I was sitting here tonight and got to thinking about just exactly how much and I started to laugh. It truly is quite comical.

See, on this day last year I was very close to having a complete nervous breakdown. My 17th wedding anniversary would have been the next day (7-9-16) and I was celebrating it with a friend who had been my friend for thirty-seven years by Zip-lining through the trees in a State Park. My house was nearing completion; I was headed back to work soon; and I missed my husband something awful. I was “dating” someone who truly helped me to heal in ways he will never understand and I couldn’t give him what he really wanted in life. Add all of that to the emotions that I was battling constantly; two girls who I was solely responsible for; and about a million other little things and you had the makings of one more nervous breakdown!!!

Fast forward one year to this day: July 8, 2017. I have officially been married to the man of my dreams for one week. Let me introduce you to my husband, Heath Webb.

us2

 

Heath and I met because of his adorable little boy who I happened to know from school. We had talked numerous times by phone and many text messages, but it wasn’t until late April that he and I became Facebook friends. When I saw his profile picture I must admit…my heart did a flip flop in my chest. He really is just that good looking. I could not wait to actually meet him in person one day.

I was already friends with his ex-wife at the time and because they knew me on a professional level; I kept it that way. Until the day I changed my relationship status on my Facebook page. See, Heath thought I was married. He had no clue who I was; what my story was; or anything else about me personally until Facebook. When he saw that I was in a relationship he said that he just watched me from the outside and that I seemed like a fun person; but he wouldn’t attempt to talk to me if I was seeing someone else.

Well, the day my status changed is the day he decided it was ok to talk. I may have encouraged him to talk a little more those next few days to let him know I was most defiantly interested in getting to know him better; but I wasn’t just gonna throw myself out there by admitting I was attracted to him either. A girl must be careful…especially these days.

We started texting one another a little more every day, until one day he asked if he could use the little device in my hand to call and hear me talk instead of reading the words I was typing with my fingers. I laughed and said yes…and that started this whole love affair.

The day he asked me out on a date, I as very conflicted. I wanted to go so bad I could taste it, but I also had a professional and personal responsibility to his child and his ex-wife. So, what did I do? I called her up and told her that he had asked me out…and I asked her if she minded if I went out with him. After several seconds of silence, she said, “It’s about time he asked someone good out.” And the rest as they say…is history!!

Our first official date was to a Japanese steak house where we sat and talked throughout the whole meal. We laughed and just plain out enjoyed our time together. He asked me if he could see me again and we have been together literally every single day since then except maybe five…and those we spent texting back and forth non-stop.

I am reasonably sure that we fell in love with each other at almost the same moment. It was just crazy how well we fit together in our thoughts, ideas, and beliefs. He had been raised in the church and had an enormous amount of Bible knowledge. I was so surprised when he offered to pray before every meal…no matter where we were or who was with us. He told me his story and I told him mine. We had been together for several weeks before he even realized I had written a book. It was over a month before he actually read it.

By the time he read my book we were already crazy about each other. He was the first person I talked to every morning and the last one I talked to at night. I told some of my closest friends that I would marry him the day after our first date. When I saw who Heath Webb really was…I was like a moth to a flame. He made me want to live again. Really live. Not just go through the motions…truly live. He made me want to settle down and quit running. He was a soothing wind to my gypsy soul.

Then, I pulled out my notebook. I wrote a list after Greg died of the things I wanted in a husband. I also wrote letters to my future husband. The day I claimed Jeremiah 33:11-16 as my promise from God that I WOULD love someone again…that I WOULD have joy and gladness within the walls of my home again…that I WOULD have laughter and the sounds of bride and bridegroom in my life again…I began to write letters to him.

In those letters, I wrote what I was doing…how I was struggling to survive alone. How I wished I could open my heart and truly love someone again. I wrote about the things I did and the things I wanted to do. I prayed for him and I asked God to prepare him…and I wondered what he was doing while we both waited for God’s timing.

I had no idea that God truly was preparing Heath for me during those days. He had been divorced for six years. He had dated people and he had been alone more than anything. He had struggled to keep going, keep trying, keep living. He just went through the motions and got to the point where he was tired of asking God to send him a woman who he could love forever. He didn’t think real love, kindness, or devotion was even possible at this point in his life. He told me that he had even told God that he didn’t want to be a part of his plan anymore if all he was going to have to look forward to was being alone and miserable for the rest of his life.

Then, out of the blue here I came like white lightning and changed his whole world. Just like he did mine. That was sooooo a “God thing”! Neither one of us could fathom that we had crossed paths. It was just too weird that we were seeing our prayers and dreams being reflected in each other’s eyes and words. We knew we had found “the one” almost instantly.

And, the biggest blessing of all? Kids at weddingOur children LOVED each other from the first moment they met. That was also a “God thing”.

Our kids are actually the reason we got married like we did last Saturday! We had talked about getting married maybe “in November” and Maggie…my child who never says anything about her feelings…said, “Uh…I don’t think so!”. We laughed and said, “Well we could wait until next April or May maybe.” To which she smartly responded, “Uh…NO. I would not even give you until November…I sure ain’t giving you to next year!” And, so we started looking at dates on our calendar.

We settled on October 14, 2017 and that seemed to please everyone. camperUntil we bought a camper.

Knowing we wanted to take trips together as a family and knowing we had to set a good example for ourselves and our four kids we decided that we would just go to the mountains and elope in mid-July. Everyone in our close circle was happy about that plan except for my Daddy, brother, and best friend. They all had to work and would not be able to be there at that time…and that was unacceptable. So, I had a conversation with my Mama and we decided that we could pull a wedding off in two weeks…and that is exactly what we did.

I can’t say that it was all fun and games…because it was NOT. But, I can say that it turned out amazing and I am so glad that we had the wedding that we had with our family and friends there to help us celebrate the beginning of our new life.

Tomorrow would have been my 18th wedding anniversary. It feels so weird that this year I am able to look back on that day with happiness in my heart. I will always love Greg Hubbert. He will always be my first love of a lifetime…my friend…my kid’s daddy. His place in my life will always be the same. He just finished his race before I did and I was his “to death do us part”.

FamilyNow, I have a new husband. A new friend. A new love of a lifetime. He will be my “’til death do us part” or I will be his. Either way…we are in this life together for the rest of our “Earthly Ever”. I am so thankful for God’s love, mercy, and grace. I am so thankful for a heart that was healed and made bigger after it was shattered. I am so thankful for a Father who saw me cry out to Him and He was faithful to provide exactly what I needed when the time was right. I don’t know why He does the things He does. What I do know is that I am so happy I could cry tears of joy at any moment.

I pray that my story helps you see that there truly is HOPE after DESPAIR. God does love you and He does care about the small, little details of your life. He does…Heath and I are both living proof of His love. He brought us both through some dark, sinful, dreary, miserable days…and He has made us new again in His image. We are so blessed and so excited to see what’s next for this wild and crazy band of Cowboys & Gypsy’s on 3GirlHill. We are just as surprised as everyone else and are looking forward to finding out “what’s next”…

Love to you all,

Emily Webb…the Gypsy that the Cowboy caught in his Webb.dance.jpg

 

Link
The Dime Story

I guess I have waited long enough to tell this story. I have started writing it several times and each time I got sidetracked. So, tonight I’m gonna tell it once and for all.

When I was a little girl my Great-Grandmother collected dimes. She would pick them up every time she saw them and she never spent one. She always told her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren to save dimes. Well, we all knew that she said that, but it wasn’t until after she died that we realized she really MEANT it!! Inside her little house, hidden in jars, closets, baskets, and drawers were literally thousands…maybe even hundreds of thousands of dimes! Yes. Hundreds of Thousands!

The number of dimes that were found inside her little house was big news, and it spread through our family like wildfire! I mean, Mamaw Jones had a bazillion dimes and she really did keep all of them. We were amazed at the sheer volume of dimes that she had collected. The biggest surprise was that no one really believed she had kept all of those dimes she had touched in her lifetime…until the day they had to clean out her house!

So, for years after she died anytime a person in our family found a dime we would say, “There’s Mamaw Jones telling us hello”. We would smile and go on about our business. I mean, we all found dimes here and there through the years, but it wasn’t a big deal.

Until my Me-Maw died.

Me-Maw was Mamaw Jones’ third child. She was the baby and was (in her own words) spoiled rotten. Well, Me-Maw was always looking for dimes and every time she found one she would say, “There’s a dime from my daddy” (Her daddy….Mamaw’s husband had died in the seventy’s) or “There’s a dime from Mama”. It never failed that she would say that when she found one or came across one. She would also remind us to keep them instead of spending them…”that way we would always have a dime to our name”.  I guess growing up poor made my family believe having just one dime to your name was enough.

And it always was.

Fast forward to June, 2015. My Me-Maw had just passed away (Three short weeks after her oldest sister, Martha) around 5:00 that Saturday morning on the day that I found the first “weird” dime. I opened the trunk of my car and there was a dime sitting in the middle of the trunk. Now, I was at my Me-Maw’s house…which happened to sit at the end of a long, bumpy, red-dirt road. That dime was sitting in the middle of the carpet like it had been placed there on purpose. There was no other change in the trunk at all. I picked it up and took it inside to show my family. They all grinned and we just silently agreed that Me-Maw was telling us she was finally OK. It was a good feeling.

Well, I went home that day and I told Greg about finding the dime. He just blew it off as a coincidence, told me I was crazy, and went on about his business. (He knew the way my family felt about dimes since he had been around so many years).

Skip ahead to September 2015. My cousin Zackary got married at the beach. He is my Mama’s sisters son…aka same side of the family as the dime story. Me, my Mama, both of my sisters, numerous cousins, aunts, and a passel of friends went down to the beach for the wedding. I had to work that Friday, so my sister Diana rode down with me later in the evening. My sister Tracy, my Mama, and my cousin Paige drove down earlier during the day and we met up with them that night. Since it was going to be a girls trip, we all split a hotel room for the weekend.

When I got to Diana’s house that afternoon she said she needed to change purses, but decided to wait until we got to the beach to do it. She put the new purse that she had ordered online in the front floorboard of the car (it was still inside the plastic) with the wallet (also still inside the plastic). She never touched it again until we got to the hotel and unloaded all of our luggage.

Since we arrived so late in the evening at the hotel, everyone else was nearly ready for bed. My Mama was actually already in the bed (the pull-out sleeper sofa that she had put the sheets on herself) when we came in. We all talked and just settled in for a few minutes before Diana pulled out her new purse and wallet. As she took everything out of her old purse she laid it in a pile at the end of the bed. She turned the old purse upside down and shook it to make sure it was empty and a dime fell out! We all laughed and said, “Well, Me-Maw did make it to Zack’s wedding after all!”

At this point it was just neat to see one dime fall out of the purse. No big deal…right?

Then, as Diana was pulling the wallet out of the plastic she un-zipped the change pocket and TWO DIMES were inside it! We were like…wait….what?! How in the world did those two dimes get into that brand new wallet? We were all kind of shocked and so we did what we always do…we started laughing.

Well, we laughed about three dimes being there on the bed and how neat it was that they were there at all for several minutes. The whole time Diana was putting things into her new purse. Mama was in the bed (she never got up); I was sitting at the head of the bed against the headboard; and Tracy & Paige were sitting on the opposite bed and Diana was at the foot of the bed I was sitting on. Then, Diana picks up the dimes so she could drop the into her wallet and she said, “Wait, why are there five dimes here? Where did those two come from?”

We all said, “Huh? 5 dimes? There was only 3 dimes there just a minute ago!”

Then, Mama (still in her bed) lifts up her hand and said, “Well, where did this one come from?”

This is the point where we ALL started screaming, laughing, and plain ol’ FREAKING OUT!!! I am telling you we FREAKED OUT! We ran out of that hotel room and commenced to having full blown panic attacks…every one of us!! If you don’t believe me…just ask our friends who were down at the pool. We were howling laughing. I mean I bet y’all could have heard us all the way at home we were laughing so hard. Crying, hanging over the rails, screaming laughing. What else could we possibly do? It was crazy.  Pure CRAZY!

I guess we laughed hysterically for about two hours. My Mama could NOT get over the fact that one of the dimes was in her hand and she had no idea how it got there. NONE. We were as freaked out as we could possibly have been at that point. Literally.

Well, the next day was the wedding. Of course, since this was the “Dime Side” of the family we told everyone at the house (where the wedding took place) about the six dimes we had been given the night before. Everyone agreed that it was Mamaw Jones, Aunt Martha, and Me-Maw just wanting us to know that they were there and to have a good time together that weekend.

Until after the wedding and reception.

My aunt and I were sweeping off the deck on the back of the house. I was moving some things and she was sweeping when all of a sudden a dime dropped onto the deck and rolled around until it came to a stop. She looked at me…I looked at her….and we didn’t’ say a word. How that dime fell out of the sky and landed on that deck was beyond us. We didn’t move. After a few minutes, we both looked up and all we saw were the stars twinkling above us. There was nothing up there but clear sky and a whole bunch of stars. Yet, lying on the deck between us was a dime just as clear as day.

This time, we didn’t freak out. We didn’t laugh. We didn’t even speak. We just stood there and looked at it. Then, my aunt stepped forward; picked the dime up; looked towards heaven and said, “Thanks Mama. I needed that today”. She shoved the dime into her pocket, looked at me, and we just started cleaning up again. No words were even necessary.

I posted the whole thing on Facebook before I got home. It was just so crazy we had to share it with the world. Naturally, Greg saw the posts and heard me tell him what had happened numerous times that weekend on the phone and when I got home. He said that we “all were crazy and we needed to stop making up such crazy stories”. I really think he thought I was loosing my mind…along with my mother and sisters!! LOL!!

Anyway, that happened the weekend before Greg died. That whole week he made fun of me about the dimes. He told people about it and told them how crazy his wife and her family really were. It really was comical to him because he didn’t believe any of it. I still don’t know how he didn’t believe me even though I had picture evidence of it on my phone!

The day Greg died, I died too. The person I knew was no longer here and in her place was a shell of a person who was so lost and so traumatized that she didn’t even function for three months. There was precious little interaction between me and the world around me during those months. Yet, the times that I did try to interact (either at home or away from home) I noticed something strange that kept reoccuring.

I started finding dimes everywhere. Inside my camera case that I had not used in years. On the ground by my foot at the gas station. Inside my pockets in both a pair of pants and a jacket. In my bed. Inside a drawer. On the floor beside my bed. On the floor in the girls room where a bug had been moments before. Inside the sock basket that sat under our window in the trailer. On the tailgate of Greg’s truck. In the seat of my car after I went in (and it was not there before I left the car). On and on and on it goes. I have dime stories out the wazoo. Only now, I don’t get freaked out.

I have kept every dime that I have found since Greg died. There may be one or two that I didn’t make it home with for one reason or another, but for the most part I have every single dime that I have found in a jar at my house.

Tonight, I poured them all out onto my bed and counted them. 20170621_200841

I have 98 dimes.

Ninety-eight dimes that I have “found” in odd, strange, plain out weird places.

Places that no dime (or any other coin) should be found.

It is so strange.

It is so weird.

It is so comforting!!!

I know, deep down in my soul…that those dimes are put in those odd places at those odd times by Greg. I know deep down in my soul that my husband can see me and his girls. I know without a doubt that on the days when I miss him…or wish I could tell him something…somehow he knows and he always leaves me a dime to reassure me when I need it the most.

Case in point…I am engaged to be married soon. Heath is a wonderful man who I know God prepared for me and the girls. I also know that he has Greg’s stamp of approval. How you say? Well, let’s just say that Greg has left Heath a few dimes as well. It is so crazy…and so much fun!! LOL

I  don’t really know how…or why…or if any of this is Biblical. What I do know is that I have found too many dimes in too many weird places at too many exactly “right” ,moments.

Ninety-eight times to be exact.

I was curious if finding dimes was a common “thing”…so I Googled it! Turns out a lot of people find dimes often. There are Facebook Groups, Blogs, and Article after Article written by people who have found dimes just like I have after losing someone close to them. They all talk about finding them in the oddest places at the oddest times…and it is always Dimes. Never any other coins. Strange isn’t it?

I can’t explain it. I can’t rationalize it. I can’t stop the negative comments or thoughts about it. All I can do is share my stories with you all; keep posting my dime pics; and keep believing in something that doesn’t make any sense. Isn’t that what Faith really is?

I see each new dime as a gift. A loving reminder that I am not alone and that I will always have someone who cares about me no matter what. Finding dimes is so comforting to me now…and it is comforting to the girls as well. Even our biggest girl (and biggest Dime Skeptic!) has started to receive her fair share of dimes! Ol’ Whitter Lou has been shocked speechless (hilarious I know!) more than once when a dime suddenly appeared out of nowhere for her as well.

So, there ya go. That’s my dime story(s) and I’m sticking to it. I can’t speak for the rest of the world…but I can speak for me and I KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt where my dimes come from. I count it all joy as I look for new ones everyday. I never know when one will appear…but they always show up at just the right moment!

Please tell me your dime stories (or other weird stories) that relate to this one! I look at it like this: God is a big guy. He created the Heavens and the Earth. He created everything in it, outside of it, and around it. He has done so much and is capable of so much…who am I to limit what He can (or cannot do)? I personally believe that He only gives us a tiny piece of the big picture. I can’t wait to get to Heaven and see Him face to face! I just believe deep inside my heart that He has so much more to show us and teach us…but we only get the small, limited view while here on earth. That’s why we have to be ready to meet Him one day. We never know when that day might be…are you ready? If not, let’s talk! Today could be your day!

Front Porch Sittin’

Standard

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

Standard

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!

20170207_171348

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!