Sunday, August 20, 2017

People...What Is The Perfect Gift?

It's really difficult in a marriage like ours to surprise each other. We share bank accounts, look at each other's phone, grab keys out of and dig through each other's bags to grab things for the other one.  We trade off which car we drive, dump paperwork on the same desk and share kids. So, when I opened the doors to our church fellowship hall, I kind of knew there was a party.  For me.

What I didn't know was exactly who was in the room or what was in store.  My husband did this. And he did it well.

I couldn't look at them all at once... so many faces as I scanned table to table and I was overwhelmed with the most beautiful gift.   Friends.  Family.  Old and Young.  People who I see daily, weekly, monthly and some not nearly as often as I would like.

My niece and nephew from North Carolina- and their four kids first caught my eye.  I later learned they drove in for the party and had to drive back home the same night.  Owen, my great-nephew pulled one of his own treasures- a tiny silver heart - out of his pocket and handed it to me.  And, a big hug.  His sisters, Audrey and Norah both gave me hugs.  Ella, I didn't even try but she didn't cry so we are calling it a win.  Y'all, how cool is that?

Before I could make my way around the room, I was summoned to the front for This Is Your Life aka the Kelly and Karen show.

I sat down and listened as they read letters that my mom, step dad  and a favorite school teacher, Mrs. Shelton had written.  I watched as video played packed full of pictures from the last fifty years.

And then, the surprises began.

First, my Daddy, step mom Barbara, my baby brother, his girlfriend Rachel and my niece Erin came from around the corner.  They had drove from Tennessee to surprise me for the party.  My sister also drove in from NC.  She wasn't a big surprise, I think she may be a little bitter about that, but we all know I'd been more surprised if I hadn't seen her face when I walked in, then if she had hidden behind the corner.  She's just always there when it counts.  Both my parents, my stepparents and my siblings in one place.  Together.  What a gift.

hugging my Daddy

They asked me about the year 2000 and mentioned my special friend from that time frame.  I first guessed Matlock.  (long story,  you can ask me sometime)  Then they asked me to close my eyes and they played a tape from that friend- about four words in and I knew.  I knew that voice.  The accent. The sweet sound of my friend, Shanna.  And I knew she was around the corner.  She had to be.  And she was.  

Me & Shanna.
Biggest Surprise EVER!  

The show segmented my life  - babies.  I do love rocking me some babies.  My friends.  My children. And my husband.  Oh, that man!  The pictures of our hills and valleys flashed on the screen while Vince Gill's Me and You played over the speaker.  I was overcome with gratitude of God's love for me- when he placed Rex in my life.  How blessed we've been to love each other.

Every so often they'd ask me a question and I wasn't sure how much of an answer to give. But when they asked exactly what it was that has sustained me through life. That answer I had no problem with.  God, and the people he has put in my life to journey with me.

While I was showered with more kindness and gifts than I deserve, I saw the faces of people that I wouldn't trade all the money in the world for. I can't possibly list everyone in that room without forgetting someone, because, I am 50 y'all; but if you were there it wasn't a random invite.  It's because my sweet husband knew what the perfect gift for my birthday is... and that is you.

Of course we ate cake.  

And then we packed it up and took it home. I woke up the next morning thinking it might have been a dream. But it was real. My front porch was full of my people. We drank coffee in our PJ's and rushed to breakfast for 19 without makeup or showers.  

Daddy with almost all of his grand and great grands. 
Daddy and his kids. 

Jim, Shanna, Rex and Me, Jay & Teri
Visiting the Roanoke Star after dinner 

Me & Shanna at Blue Cow Ice Cream
Distance can't change a friendship like ours 

It took a few days for me to take in all the details that went into the night, a few days to grasp all the work and planning-  flowers, jeans, shoes and purses- my man knows me.  You need to know that  I do not take for granted the sacrifices made by everyone who attended. 

Thank you Rex for planning the perfect party and thank you to everyone who helped him pull it off! 

Mostly, thank you for being my people! 

Happy Sunday y'all! 

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

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