The Camping Trip Straight Out of Deliverance!

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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

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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.

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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

 

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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’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Front porch sittin’ is slow and easy.

It’s not time for rushing around,

Or looking at our phones,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3 Girl Hill’s Hello Fresh Review

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

Anyway, I decided to give it a try.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gotta love an honest girl!

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

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

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

Some Day

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Some Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let that sink in for a second.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I understood exactly how they felt.

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

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

Here is what God says:

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

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

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

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

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

Choose to listen.

Choose to see.

Choose to understand.

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

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

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

THANK YOU!

 

Daddy Jack and Me

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love you all,

Em

Starting Over

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alone.

So, that’ s just what I did.

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

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

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

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

HAPPY NEW YEAR Y’ALL!!!

There’s A Storm a Comin’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

30 Years in the Making

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30 Years in the Making

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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