Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Kendall Grace, 5 looks good on you!


Wow!  Baby girl, (I wonder how long I can get away with calling you that) I can hardly believe you are five.  I know adults always say that about the little people in their life, but it really is true.

It was so fun calling you on your birthday (August 4) and actually talking to you on the phone.  You have lots of words, but use them selectively these days.

When I hung up the phone, I started thinking about some of the things that make you so special.

You, sweet girl made a me a grandmother the day you were born; I didn't know it until months later.  I love that about God, and how he brought our family together.  Bits and pieces fit together perfectly. That's kind of the way it is in His family.  Surprises come along and we don't even realize what a wonderful gift they are until much later.

You are a wonderful gift to our family and we sure do love you.

What a fun and magical age five is.  Starting kindergarten, learning to be a little more independent. Life is moving in a whole new direction now that you're starting school and making friends. I'm looking forward to the year coming up for you, so many exciting things ahead- things you will learn, things you will try for the first time,  people you will meet- might even find your best friend for life in school this year.

I'm proud of you for the little girl that you are.  I love that you love Jesus and have a heart for him, and that you love going to church with me.  I even love the insecurities in you too, your tender heart and even seeing you cry. You are one tough little girl and you held your tears for a long time.  I'm glad you feel safe enough to cry and be afraid and need comforting from us.

I especially see it when you come home after being away from your mom and dad.  You are a little uneasy, unsure and I see you looking back to her for your comfort, support and reassurance that it's okay.  I pray that you always do that- that you always find your way home for comfort and support when you are unsure about what life hands you.

Kendall,  you are one of the best things that happened to your mom and to us and we are just so grateful that you are a part of our family.  That's a gift that we got.

But you aren't all insecure- you can be determined and driven when you need to be.  You knew what you wanted for this birthday, you made your list and made sure it was stuck on my refrigerator months before your birthday.  We referred to it often over the last several months- I guess we will have to start on a Christmas list next, won't we?

You often pretend to be a kitty cat, mostly when you're unsure about a situation or upset after being gone from home but it is often you walk into a room with your little kitty cat hands.  So this birthday, it seemed right to play along.

I know that one day I'm gonna miss your little kitty cat hands- and the little girl who always wants to be next to me when I'm baking in the kitchen or  watering the flowers and putting on makeup.  And girl, you can talk an ear off when we are in the car riding around.  I feel like you trust me with your secrets, and I sure do like that.

We had so much fun bouncing in the Barbie Birthday Bounce house- where you told me some pretty important things like:

your favorite thing to eat - Cereal
your favorite cereal is Cocoa Puffs
your favorite thing to do for fun is going to the mall
you like to shop where the bunk beds are (huh, maybe your momma knows where this is)
your favorite toys are balls
you're afraid of sponges that come alive, you saw that in a movie you watched
your favorite TV show - Haunted House
your favorite color is purple
and your favorite dessert is cake and brownies

You will grow up one day and will forget about sponges that come alive, shop at more exciting places than where they have bunk beds, will eat more than just cereal for dinner and won't care about many of these little things.  But,  I hope they are a great memory for you just as they are for me.

So, happy 5th birthday Kendall Grace.

Your Pappy and I want to make sure you know what an important part of our lives you are.  We love you so much! And you can always come home here!

Grammie, aka

Sunday, April 30, 2017

He builds things.

The son. 

Come close, I have a story to tell.

The setting was an old two-story house in Southeast Roanoke.  The year was 1995.  The characters, a Mom, Dad and newborn baby boy.  The arrival of this baby had been prayed over for years and years- joyous doesn't begin to describe how they felt bringing the firstborn son home.

He was their most precious gift.

From the first time she held him, she noticed his hands.  So tiny, yet big and strong.  She studied how he curled his fingers when he slept and grabbed things early on.  Lots of things.  He wanted to hold it all.  This mom loved holding his tiny hands and often wondered while rocking him close at night, just what those hands would do one day.

And like all of our kiddos do, he grew. As he grew his fingers grew into manhood and curved a bit, much like his Papaw Hersey's. He was usually tinkering with something- stripping the bark from a tree, making handmade flower boxes, bird feeders, a Mother's Day shelf as a gift, walking sticks and so on.  Creative and resourceful he was.

But no matter how big his hands grew those fingers still curled when he slept, which brought the Mom and Dad great joy.

And lest you think the boy child was made of perfection, he wasn't. His parents had their fair share of dealing with his choices that didn't meet their approval.  They went along with some of his plans praying that cheering him on would get a better result than disapproval and judgement.  Even tho, that cheering was met with judgement and sadness.  Life has a way of dishing out natural consequences - which was enough for this boy and better than anything his parents could dream  up.

People who knew this boy joked that he was born a man- so anxious to be an adult.  So anxious to conquer the world.  So anxious to just do. Whatever it would be, he was born ready to do it.  Despite his parents pleas to just slow down, he kept moving.  He went down a couple of paths that lead him back to a starting point through all of them he seemed happiest when his hands were busy.
his most important building project

While he was figuring all this out, he started building things. Things that will last much longer than wooden flower boxes - like a family.  Some say he rushed that too. Taking a wife and a daughter on the same day at only 19 years old. He had watched adoption and unconditional love play out through the chapters of his life so he said I will with confidence and courage.  And, while adulting wasn't as easy as he might have thought, he understood that from then on, whatever he did as a man would impact the wife and now two little girls who called him Daddy.

His path already had several stops like Ntelos, Universal Technical Institute, Orkin, and other jobs in between to keep a paycheck coming in.  Figuring out is hard y'all.

And seemingly out of nowhere, that stop behind the curve came and he obeyed his Lord and took a year to build other things of eternal value.  His own mom and dad wondered if it was the right thing.

It looked different than anything any might have expected.

Actually, it looked like a man with his own life stepping back into the lives of two little boys who just happened to be his little brothers. If you were looking in from the outside it looked a little crazy. Why would one who was finally free from chaos come back?

Because he builds things.

He was building them.  What looked like him just watching his little brothers, taking them to appointments, playing basketball on a Tuesday morning between math facts and history podcasts, forcing them to bathe and use nice words- was more than that.  It looked like throwing pencils. Actually, there was a lot of pencil throwing.  It looked like him teaching them how to figure fractions while measuring boards, how to grow food by planting a garden and taking care of your body by visits to the gym and soaking in truth from the Bible and others who have testimonies too big not to share.  It looked like all of that but it was so much more.

His mom would be perfectly content to keep things just like they were. It was a beautiful thing being built before her eyes.  But she knew God doesn't just drop us at our final destination- instead He gives us a path to walk and sprinkles it with different stops along the way.

The last year was just a stop and this family knew it was time to keep walking.  In faith.  Is there any other way?  It has to be faith over fear- because God is bigger- even when we can't see the next stop around the curves.

And while that boy now man was building his family and his brothers people couldn't help but notice he was building other things too.

Day or night, if there's a job to do he doesn't stop until it's done 
That boy's Momma- she had been wanting a farmhouse table.  Their family often invited people into their home to eat and hangout, it's just what they did and they loved it so.  But they needed more space- space to put forks and meatloaf, a lit candle, play cards and sit baby girls for important conversations.

So the mom asked the son if he would build a table.  She knew he could.  They piled up the family car with lumber from Lowes- turned their front porch into his workshop and days later... he did what she knew he would.

Custom farmhouse table the son built
March 2017 

The son was asked what is it about building things that he liked,  his reply:

"I enjoy carpentry because I love taking boards that are plain and ugly and turning them into something useful and beautiful, revealing the potential in them.  Unlike life where you don't ever know what you're gonna get each day, carpentry is absolute and exact- the boards either fit together or they don't.  If they don't you just go back to the saw and shave them off a bit. Bringing the beauty out in things whether it' is building a table, installing a floor or painting a room- seeing things change in a positive way brings joy to my life."

You've probably figured out the story is about us. The boy- he just turned 22 on Wednesday and like his Mom and Dad prayed that he would, he stepped out in faith and is walking his own path. Tomorrow he starts a new job working for a construction company- using those hands to build material things.

More importantly, he keeps building eternal things, his beautiful family and their lives on the foundation of God's truth. What more could a parent ask for --- except that he not drink alcohol and stop with the tattoos and get out of the house more and.... oops.  That's another story.

Come close, friends, I have a story to tell.  Faith doesn't make things easy- but it sure makes the impossible possible. We might not all be good with a hammer or able to whip up a table on our Momma's whim, but all of us can build on the cornerstone.

Ephesians 2:20 - Jesus Christ himself, being the chief cornerstone. Go build something beautiful.

My son, Shayne and his beautiful wife Emily and daughters Kendall & Penelope
Easter 2017 

Shayne- you just keep at it son.  You're building some pretty amazing things and making your dad and I proud- but not nearly as proud as your God Daddy for leading your family in faith.

Happy Sunday y'all!

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